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Yablonski killer won't be released

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By Bobby Kerlik
Friday, Nov. 4, 2011

The last living man convicted of gunning down United Mine Workers union reformer Joseph "Jock" Yablonski, his wife and daughter in Washington County won't be getting out of prison, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

The state's high court denied requests from Paul Gilly, 78, who is serving three life terms for his convictions of being a triggerman in the 1969 deaths. Gilly, who was convicted in 1972, filed a 19-page handwritten request in May, arguing that he helped the government secure other convictions and that he has served his time.

Gilly claimed that Pennsylvania law says a prison "sentence is excessive if it deviates from guidelines or exceeds maximum statutory penalty" and "said maximum for felony of the first-degree sentence is twenty (20) years." He wrote that since he was arrested in January 1970, he should have been released from prison in January 1990.

Gilly was an unemployed house painter in Cleveland when Yablonski, 59, his wife, Margaret, 59, and their daughter, Charlotte, 25, were shot to death in their Clarksville home by three assassins hired by a UMW political foe.

Gilly agreed to cooperate with the prosecution and appear as a commonwealth witness in the trial of UMW president W.A. "Tony" Boyle, who eventually was sentenced to three life terms for the Yablonski family deaths. Boyle died in 1985.

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