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Thornburgh 'disappointed' by decision in Wecht case

Former U.S. Attorney General Dick Thornburgh said he's disappointed with a federal judge's ruling that Dr. Cyril H. Wecht's defense team cannot argue that the government's public corruption case against the forensic pathologist and former Allegheny County coroner is politically motivated.

"That should be part of the consideration in this case, as I testified before the (U.S.) House Judiciary Committee at their request," Thornburgh, who represents Wecht, said today. "So we're disappointed. That's all I can say."

Thornburgh, also a former two-term Pennsylvania governor, appeared in October before the judiciary panel and accused U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan, a fellow Republican, of abusing federal law to target Wecht, a Democrat. Buchanan has denied the allegation.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Schwab refused to suppress evidence in the case and ruled Wecht's attorneys can't use the allegation of political motivation.

Asked if the ruling was a blow to Wecht's defense, Thornburgh said: "We think it robs the case of some of the context that's necessary to fully understand why these charges were brought, but the judge has made a decision. Obviously we'll have to abide by it."

Jury selection in Wecht's trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 28.

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