Prosecutors ruled out Tuesday seeking a death sentence for a Jackson Township resident accused of beating a man to death in Johnstown.

Daniel William Manculich, 20, is charged with first-degree murder, aggravated assault and other charges in the Aug. 21 death of 48-year-old Richard Lantzy.

Johnstown police say Manculich beat Lantzy with a blunt object on Aug. 10 at Lantzy’s Southmont Boulevard residence.

The critically wounded Lantzy was found the next morning by his cousin, James Robinson, who lived with Lantzy.

Lantzy died at Memorial Medical Center 11 days after the beating. The cause of death was listed as a severe head injury.

On Tuesday, Public Defender Kenneth Sottile entered a not guilty plea on behalf of his client on all charges. The plea was entered during Manculich’s formal court arraignment before Judge Timothy Creany.

During the arraignment, Assistant District Attorney Forrest Fordham announced that capital punishment would not be sought should Manculich be convicted of murder in the first degree.

Afterwards Assistant District Attorney Gary Costlow, who is prosecuting the case with Fordham, said, “Although the evidence shows an intentional killing, it doesn’t clearly show aggravating circumstances.”

Prosecutors have to be able to show at least one of the aggravating circumstances outlined in state law for a death sentence.

Creany set a January trial date, but Sottile said the defense likely will seek a continuance in order to have pre-trial motions heard.

Sottile said that self-defense may be raised at trial. Manculich, who was 19 at the time of the incident, told police he’d been sexually assaulted by Lantzy.

He indicated that he did not remember beating up Lantzy, according to testimony at the preliminary hearing. Rather, Manculich said he had blacked out after the man had sexually assaulted him, police were told.

“Mr. Manculich in his statement (to police) said he had been raped by the deceased. And, generally speaking, if someone is raped or being raped, they have right to defend or try to stop that,” Sottile said.

Costlow, asked about the sex assault claim, said, “Certainly that is something we will review. But we’re not inclined to give that great credibility.”

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