First-degree murder charge dismissed in trial of Pa. man accused of shooting son

Deliberations will begin in Franklin County Court of Common Pleas for Jerry D. Rowe on a charge of criminal homicide

August 22, 2012|By DON AINES |
  • Rowe
Submitted photo

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Closing arguments will be presented and jury deliberations will begin Thursday in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas in the case of a Chambersburg man charged with the 2010 shooting death of his son, but the jury will not be able to consider a verdict of first-degree murder.

Jerry D. Rowe, 57, is charged with criminal homicide in the Oct. 16, 2010, death of 27-year-old Nathaniel Rowe at their home on Duncan Avenue. Criminal homicide includes first- and third-degree murder and voluntary and involuntary manslaughter.

Judge Douglas W. Herman, however, granted a motion by defense attorney David Breschi for a motion for judgment of acquittal on first-degree murder, so the jury will not consider that charge in its deliberations.

First-degree murder, a premeditated killing with malice, carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison in Pennsylvania.

Herman deferred on Breschi’s request for a judgment of acquittal on third-degree murder, which can carry a sentence of up to 40 years in prison. Breschi argued that the commonwealth had not presented sufficient evidence of malice in the killing.


A voluntary manslaughter conviction carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, while involuntary manslaughter is a first-degree misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

During the discussion of the motion, Assistant District Attorney Laura Kerstetter countered that the jury should be allowed to consider all of the evidence. She said malice could be inferred from Jerry Rowe’s actions, including his experience with firearms, and his retrieving of a handgun from his bedroom and firing a single shot that struck Nathaniel Rowe in a vital part of his body.

Nathaniel Rowe was struck through the right arm and torso by a single bullet fired from a distance of about 27 feet, Breschi told the jury Monday in his opening statement. Nathaniel Rowe was behaving violently, and his autopsy showed he was intoxicated and had cocaine in his system, Breschi said Monday.

Police had been called before the shot was fired, and when they arrived, Jerry Rowe was on the front porch holding a gun to his head and threatening suicide, Breschi said Monday. The standoff with police lasted about an hour before Rowe surrendered to police, he said.

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