EBENSBURG – A Cambria County judge on Tuesday granted a continuance in a state prison inmate’s appeal of his murder conviction after his attorney found there was no grounds for the appeal.
Cambria County Judge Patrick Kiniry continued the case at the request of Richard Corcoran, attorney for Earl Mitchell, 27, who was convicted in 2016 of shooting Jareek Adams and Jonathan Moore in a parking lot at Johnstown’s Oakhurst Homes. Adams, 27, died. Moore, then 30, was injured.
The continuance will allow for time for Corcoran to write a Turner-Findley letter to submit to the court for review. Corcoran explained that the letter is a statement that the Post Conviction Relief Act petition has no merit.
The Post Conviction Relief Act allows individuals who have pleaded guilty or been found guilty of a crime to argue that a new trial, or other relief, may be warranted.
Corcoran said that he had originally filed the appeal on the grounds that Mitchell’s trial attorney, David Beyer, did not file a continuance to locate two additional witnesses – Nassir Allen, who was interviewed by Johnstown police at the time of the incident but unable to be located at the time of the trial, and an owner of a gun found at the scene of the crime who was to be related to one of the victims.
Corcoran said that, since the hearing was previously continued in June in an attempt to locate these witnesses, he had done research through court transcripts and found that Beyer did request a continuance to locate the witnesses and that that request was denied by the court.
The attorney added that Beyer appealed the issue to the state Superior Court and the appeal was denied.
Mitchell testified at trial that he acted to defend himself and passengers in his vehicle, but was convicted by a jury of third-degree murder and aggravated assault.
Kiniry sentenced him to spend 25 to 50 years in prison, and he is serving his sentence at the SCI-Fayette.
Kiniry will review the letter and another hearing will be held in 30 days.