In mid-January, we reported on the case of David Munchinski who was convicted of double murder in 1977 in Fayette County, Pennsylvania.
Munchinski was accused in the shooting deaths of two men, Peter Alford and Raymond Gierke, during an altercation over drugs in Bear Rocks, Fayette County. Munchinski was convicted largely on the testimony of his alleged accomplice, Richard Bowen, who later recanted his statements before committing suicide.
Over the course of the appeals process in Munchinski’s case, reports surfaced that Bowen may have been in Oklahoma at the time of the murders and evidence of alternate suspects was never disclosed to Munchinski’s trial lawyers by the state.
The federal 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals vacated Munchinski’s conviction and sentence in September, 2012, but the state did not discount the possibility of retrying him for a third time.
The Pittsburg Post-Gazette reports that a Fayette County judge dismissed the charges against Munchinski on Friday, with prejudice:The court upheld an earlier ruling by U.S. Magistrate Judge Lisa Pupo Lenihan in which she reversed Mr. Munchinski’s conviction and gave the state attorney general’s office until January to retry Mr. Munchinski. After brief argument Friday, Fayette County Common Pleas Judge Nancy Vernon dismissed the charges against Mr. Munchinski with prejudice.
His lawyers say the next step is to try and work out a financial settlement with the state to compensate Munchinski for the years he was imprisoned. If that isn’t possible, Munchinski will file a civil rights claim against the prosecutors and state troopers who investigated and tried the case, and will include allegations of “malicious prosecution.”