Judge takes stand in Pa. man's retrial bid

Angela Krom testified about her previous role as assistant district attorney in case of Ronald Harshman

March 28, 2013|By JENNIFER FITCH |
  • Harshman
Herald-Mail file photo

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — A Court of Common Pleas judge shifted roles and took the witness stand Thursday as a man convicted of first-degree murder continued his quest for a new trial.

Judge Angela Krom, who was subpoenaed, testified about her previous role as an assistant district attorney. She worked on Ronald Harshman’s July 2001 homicide trial with the county’s former district attorney.

Harshman was convicted in the presumed death of Greencastle, Pa., resident Melvin Elwood Snyder, whose body was never found. He is trying to demonstrate witnesses perjured themselves in exchange for special treatment from the Franklin County (Pa.) District Attorney’s Office.

Krom underwent questioning about claims made by Keith Granlun, who previously testified he lied during the trial when he claimed Harshman told him where he dumped a body.

Granlun, of Maugansville, Md., told a judge during a Post-Conviction Relief Act (PCRA) hearing in September 2012 that he was freed from custody two hours after testifying in the Harshman trial. He had been incarcerated on driving under the influence and unsworn falsification charges.


Granlun said he later talked to then-District Attorney Jack Nelson after receiving a call from the probation department about fines.

“I said, ‘I thought this was supposed to go away.’ ... (Nelson made a phone call) and said, ‘Everything is done with. It’ll go away,’” Granlun testified, saying that he never was asked for court fees again.
Nelson died in 2009.

Harshman’s attorney, Chris Sheffield, questioned Krom about conversations with Granlun.

“My recollection is the only benefit Mr. Granlun was looking for was some benefit for his friend, Mr. Snyder,” Krom testified.

Sheffield asked Krom about various dates and tried to establish when prosecutors talked to Granlun. She said she does not recall speaking to Granlun until the week of the trial.

Generally, Nelson would not put a witness on the stand without talking to him or her, Krom said.

Pennsylvania State Police Cpl. Daren Hockenberry, the lead investigator for the case before trial, also offered testimony Thursday. He explained troopers canvassed the Franklin County Jail seeking information about what Harshman might have said about the murder.

Investigators re-interviewed Granlun two months after he said he had never talked to Harshman.

“I cannot recall what brought that up again, that we went to talk to him,” Hockenberry said.

“Doesn’t it strike you as odd?” Sheffield asked.

“Not really,” Hockenberry said, saying the first report indicates Granlun at least knew who Harshman was.

Harshman’s trial attorney, David S. Keller, also testified, saying he received a call from Granlun’s brother-in-law saying the witness was “in over his head” and needed help.

Keller went to the jail the weekend before the trial started, but said he thinks he was unable to meet with Granlun.

“I have no recollection of talking to or seeing Mr. Granlun prior to the courtroom,” Keller testified.

Judge Douglas Herman is expected to rule in coming months about the admissibility of various evidence in the PCRA proceedings.

Court documents state Harshman’s wife, Teresa, had an affair with Snyder beginning in May 1984. They left the state briefly, but reconciled with their respective spouses upon their return.

Harshman and Teresa Harshman Young later divorced.

“The victim and his wife continued to live together following their reconciliation until the victim’s disappearance on the last Saturday in May 1985, the anniversary of initiation of his intimate relationship with Ronald Harshman’s wife,” an affidavit of probable cause states.

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