SUNBURY — The defense attorney for convicted killer and death row inmate Brentt M. Sherwood said he is ready for appeal for a Post Conviction Relief Act petition to proceed.
Defense attorney Edward J. Rymsza and attorney William Ross Stoycos, a senior deputy through the state Attorney General's office, appeared in front of Senior Judge Harold F. Woelfel Jr. on Wednesday afternoon in Northumberland County Court. An evidentiary hearing is also scheduled for Feb 10, 2010.
The defense is "absolutely" ready, said Rymsza.
Sherwood, 39, was convicted 12 years ago of beating his 4½-year-old stepdaughter to death. Sherwood, a former Northumberland resident, was sentenced to death in May 2007 after a Northumberland County jury convicted him of first-degree murder in the December 2004 beating death of his 4½-year-old stepdaughter, Marlee Reed. During the trial, Sherwood admitted punching and kicking the child repeatedly in their Northumberland home, but claimed he was high on cocaine and did not mean to kill her.
Sherwood, seeking relief from a conviction of first degree murder and the imposition of the death penalty, has originally listed 106 different reasons why he should be awarded a new trial, including ineffective counsel, inappropriate or unlawful procedures from the late Judge William Harvey Wiest, procedural deficiencies and errors or omission of record, according to a 342-page Post Conviction Relief Act motion that was originally filed in 2012.
Stoycos said the evidentiary hearing involves expert witnesses, and the case must go through the discovery phase before moving forward.
"We will be ready to proceed when the time comes," said Stoycos. He declined further comment.
Sherwood, currently incarcerated at State Correctional Institute-Greene in Waynesburg, is one of 140 inmates currently on death row in Pennsylvania.
On Feb. 13, 2015, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced a halt to all executions. He said the moratorium will continue until he has "received and reviewed the forthcoming report of the Pennsylvania Task Force and Advisory Commission on Capital Punishment, established under Senate Resolution 6 of 2011, and there is an opportunity to address all concerns satisfactorily." Three legislators from the Philadelphia area recently introduced legislation to repeal the death penalty.