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Forensic psychiatrist to be added as defense witness in Franklin County 2010 shooting death trial

March 02, 2012|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com
  • Rowe
Submitted photo

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — A Chambersburg man charged in the 2010 shooting death of his son appeared in Franklin County (Pa.) Court Friday for a pretrial conference.

David Breschi, defense attorney for Jerry D. Rowe, said he would add a forensic psychiatrist as a defense witness to the trial list, a witness that had been denied by the court.

Since the court denied the need for a forensic psychiatrist, Breschi said his law firm would retain the expert and submit a report to the commonwealth.

Franklin County Judge Douglas Herman asked why there was a need for a forensic psychiatrist.

“Following the shooting, Mr. Rowe had a 60-minute confrontation with police where he held a gun to his head and threatened suicide,” Breschi said.

It could be a post-traumatic stress issue, Breschi said.

Breschi said the forensic psychiatrist is to address the police standoff and not what happened during the alleged shooting.

Herman asked if the prosecution plans to argue the events following the shooting.

Assistant District Attorney Laura J. Kerstetter said according to case law , a threat of suicide can be an indication of guilt.

In the affidavit of probable cause, Jerry Rowe, 56, told police that he and his son were involved in a verbal argument when Nathaniel Rowe, 27, shoved his mother at their Duncan Avenue home on Oct. 16, 2010.

Jerry Rowe said he retrieved a loaded, 9 mm semiautomatic handgun from under his mattress and confronted his son, the affidavit said.

Police found Nathaniel Rowe lying on the ground without a pulse. He was pronounced dead at Chambersburg Hospital.

The first officers on the scene said Jerry Rowe was holding a handgun to his head and threatening suicide, according to court documents.

Jury selection is scheduled for June 4, with the trial to begin immediately after. The trial has been scheduled for seven days, Herman said.

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