In June we reported that David Munchinski, whose 1977 conviction for a double murder was tossed out by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals just over a year ago (see Munchinski v. Wilson), would not have to face a new trial after a judge dismissed the murder charges against him with prejudice.
After losing 27 years of his life to a wrongful conviction, Munchinski is now suing the prosecutors and former prosecutors who were responsible for his imprisonment. On September 4, 2013 the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Munchinski filed a lawsuit against three former prosecutors, two of whom are now senior judges on the Fayette County Court of Common Pleas, and the estate of a late state trooper who investigated the case. The two judges are having their legal bills covered by Fayette County, and the prosecutor is requesting similar support.
The basis of the complaint against the men is that they held onto evidence that they knew would disprove Munchinski’s conviction. For instance, at first his co-defendant told police that he knew nothing about the double murder, but the recording of that statement was never disclosed by prosecutors to Munchinski’s lawyers. The same co-defendant later testified at trial that he was the getaway driver for Munchiski, who he said committed the murders. The co-defendant later recanted before committing suicide. Furthermore, the state apparently possessed evidence that their key eyewitness was actually in Oklahoma – not Pennsylvania – at the time of the crime. And an alternate suspect later confessed to the murders before dying in prison.
Yesterday, the Herald-Standard reported that Munchinski amended his lawsuit to include further claims of prosecutorial misconduct. He is apparently asking for an 8-figure settlement.
A judge must first rule on whether the case can proceed against the defendants before a trial can be scheduled. We will continue to provide updates as Munchinski’s lawsuit progresses.
Lawyers have filed motions to dismiss on behalf of the prosecutors and police involved in the case. Munchinski has until January 13 to respond. Read more here.
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