The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Breaking News


November 8, 2012

In final hours today, lawyers try to block Pennsylvania execution

HARRISBURG — Condemned murderer Hubert L. Michael Jr. is running out of options as the hours until his scheduled execution - set for 7 p.m. today -  melt away.

Michael's lawyers hope the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia will reverse at least one of two requests for stays of execution rejected by federal judges in Harrisburg.

And there's a possibility, however slim, that they could turn around Wednesday's 4-0 decision by the state Pardons Board not to recommend clemency for Michael and persuade the governor to grant it.

If his lawyers are unsuccessful, Michael is expected to be put to death by lethal injection this evening in a converted field hospital at Rockview State Prison in Bellefonte for the shooting death of 16-year-old Trista Elizabeth Eng in south-central Pennsylvania in 1993.

The execution is scheduled to take place at 7 p.m., but the death warrant that Gov. Tom Corbett signed is good until midnight. Legal maneuvering to stop the procedure could delay the execution or force it to be postponed to a future date.

Michael pleaded guilty to murdering Eng after kidnapping her in York County. At a 1997 hearing, his former public defender testified that Michael told him how he picked up the girl hitchhiking, bound her with electrical cord stolen from her home, raped her and killed her in state game lands.

He was not charged with rape, although prosecutors suspected it, because of a lack of physical evidence. Michael confessed to his brother, who located her remains about a month after she disappeared, and called police. She had been shot in the head and chest.

At Wednesday's pardons board hearing, the victim's mother, Suzanne Eng, set the tone for relatives and friends who made emotional pleas to keep the execution on track.

"He kidnapped her, he raped her and then he executed her," the mother said. "As she begged him not to kill her, he shot her three times."

The way Pennsylvania carries out its death penalty, from the training of the lethal-injection team members to the types of drugs used, is under scrutiny in a 5-year-old class-action suit pending in federal court in Harrisburg.

Also under a microscope is the Corrections Department's policy dictating how much of the execution procedure witnesses should be allowed to watch.

U.S. District Judge Yvette Kane ruled Wednesday that the department cannot use curtains or any other method to prevent witnesses from seeing and hearing all of what transpires in Michael's execution.

Kane sided with two newspapers in issuing a preliminary injunction requiring that witnesses be allowed "full visual and auditory observation" of what goes on.

State prison rules allow six members of the media to witness executions, along with prison officials, six citizens, four victims' representatives and the inmate's spiritual adviser.

The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Patriot-News of Harrisburg argue that they have a First Amendment right to view executions as a surrogate for the public, and that the ability to witness the entire execution is essential to thorough reporting on the process.

Previously, officials have used curtains to block witnesses' view of the death chamber until after an intravenous line is inserted, again if it is necessary to physically check the inmate's consciousness after the first of three drugs is administered and finally when the coroner examines the inmate after the injections are completed.


Text Only
  • Tawny Dog owners not surprised to learn pooches get jealous

    DANVILLE — Dogs are often considered man’s best friend, but a recent study shows that pooches can get a little green over how much time you spend with other canines.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • lottery Big lottery payouts pay off for seniors

    HARRISBURG — State lottery officials say less means more for seniors.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Donations to Budd family near $60,000

    SHAMOKIN DAM — The Valley continues to give as fundraisers keep forming and donations steadily pour in for the Budd family, of Ohio, while Sharon Budd continues her fight back from drastic injuries suffered when a rock thrown from an Interstate 80 overpass in Union County slammed through the windshield of the family’s vehicle three weeks ago.

    July 30, 2014

  • B-17 fly-over to honor 'Dutch' VanKirk

    NORTHUMBERLAND — A Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress will soar in honor of the late Theodore “Dutch” VanKirk during his graveside services Tuesday morning.

    July 30, 2014

  • dogs31.jpg Is Spike spiteful?

    Dog is often considered man’s best friend, but a recent study shows he may be a little green over how much time you spend with other pooches.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • CORBETT_TomC.jpg Corbett: VanKirk helped to save the world

    Gov. Tom Corbett today issued the following statement on the death of Northumberland County native Theodore “Dutch” VanKirk, the last surviving crew member of the Enola Gay:

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Afraid of grandson? "Now I am," Amanda Trometter says

    Erick Trometter slept with hunting and butcher knives beside his bed while living with the grandmother he allegedly attacked on the morning he was shot after allegedly pulling a knife on a city police officer.

    July 30, 2014

  • vk1.jpg Ted VanKirk: Seen from above

    The Daily Item is republishing online its spring 2012 interview with Northumberland native Ted “Dutch” VanKirk, the navigator of the Enola Gay, which dropped the first of two atomic bombs on Japan in 1945. The story appeared in Inside Pennsylvania magazine. VanKirk died Monday in Georgia at age 93.

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • vankirk_ted1.jpg “The Japanese were beaten before we even dropped the bomb”

    Compared to the 58 other missions they ran together, the one they were assigned to carry out on Aug. 6, 1945 was easy.
    There would be no return fire, flying conditions were ideal, and if all went according to plan, they would be back to the base in Tinian by nightfall.

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • Ritz-Craft Ritz-Craft to hire 60 for Mifflinburg plant

    MIFFLINBURG — Sixty jobs are coming to Mifflinburg as a Ritz-Craft production facility that went dark seven years ago amid the housing downturn will come back on line during the next few months, company officials announced Tuesday.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

The Daily Marquee

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.