High court reinstates Shippensburg man's sentence in neighbor's slaying

October 10, 2012|By JENNIFER FITCH |

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — The Superior Court of Pennsylvania on Wednesday reversed a lower court judge’s order and reinstated the prison sentence of a Shippensburg, Pa., area man whom a jury found guilty of voluntary manslaughter.

In June 2011, Franklin County (Pa.) Court of Common Pleas Judge Richard Walsh ordered a new trial for Chad Kirby and vacated his sentence. Now, the higher court has reversed Walsh’s granting of a new trial and reinstated Kirby’s sentence of six to 12 years in prison.

Kirby had claimed ineffective trial counsel after the October 2010 verdict.

“Accordingly, as we have determined that trial counsel’s strategy has a reasonable basis, our inquiry ceases and counsel’s assistance is deemed effective,” a copy of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania order states.

Kirby, 41, was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in the August 2009 shooting death of his neighbor Andrew “Santo” Buttermore. Walsh denied his bail request in a July 2011 hearing.

According to court documents, Kirby and Buttermore, 35, fought outside their homes in the 2300 block of Lindsay Lot Road in Southampton Township, Pa.

Buttermore, who is alleged to have broken a window at Kirby’s home with a baseball bat, suffered a fatal gunshot wound in his back.

Kirby said in court filings his trial lawyer, Eric Weisbrod, should have instructed the jury about what the law says about using force when defending your property.

The Superior Court found that while Weisbrod could have used the defense of property argument, his decision to forego it in advancing the defense in line with testimony was reasonable.

Franklin County District Attorney Matt Fogal said he was glad the Superior Court granted his office’s appeal of Walsh’s decision ordering the new trial and vacating the sentence.

“The Commonwealth is very, very pleased with the decision, on behalf of the surviving family members of Santo Buttermore. I am not at all shocked to have won the appeal, as the law was clearly on our side,” Fogal wrote in an email.

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