Trial for '81 murder may be in January
A Jacksonville, Fla., man will learn later this month whether he will stand trial in January for the 1981 slaying of his wife in Somerset County.
During a brief conference Tuesday, Somerset President Judge John M. Cascio told Joseph Policicchio, the attorney for John D. Dawson, 61, and District Attorney Jerry Spangler they will meet again Dec. 29 to determine whether Dawson's trial can fit into the January trial term.
Policicchio and Spangler said they are ready to proceed, but questioned whether the trial could fit into the three-week jury trial window that begins Jan. 10 in view of other cases scheduled.
Dawson's trial is expected to take at least a week. He is accused in the Nov. 9, 1981, slaying of his wife, Kathleen Dawson, 30.
On Friday, Cascio ruled prior testimony from a deceased witness, which linked Dawson to the murder 29 years ago, can be read into evidence at trial.
Cascio rejected a defense motion to dismiss charges against Dawson because of the August death of a key prosecution witness.
Dawson is charged with killing his wife, a nurse, during her drive home from work to their Jennerstown residence. Her body was discovered in her burning car in Conemaugh Township.
Policicchio had argued that the testimony of Dawson's nephew, Duane Schmidt, at a June 4, 2009, preliminary hearing should be ruled inadmissible because Schmidt, 56, died of natural causes in August.
Cascio ruled that Schmidt's preliminary hearing testimony could be read to jurors because it was made under oath and was subject to cross-examination by Policicchio. Cascio said state law permits the admission of such testimony if there was "adequate opportunity to cross-examine the witness."
Schmidt came forward in March 2009 with evidence against his uncle.
At the hearing, Schmidt testified that Dawson had burn marks on his face and smelled of smoke hours after Kathleen Dawson's body was found.
Authorities say Dawson had financial and romantic motives to kill his spouse of nine years before he moved to Florida to live with his mistress. He changed his insurance policy on the day of the slaying and received $25,968 as a result of his wife's death, court records show.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers use 3 late first-half TDs to stun Texans
- Rossi: Steelers’ season all about going big
- For all but 2 minutes vs. Steelers, Texans played ‘pretty good game’
- Shelter’s spat with YCC is delayed
- 12-year-old’s donated heart joins families, lets her memory live
- Steelers notebook: Adams replaces concussed Gilbert
- Kin of 2013 DUI crash victim in Hempfield lose young family in fire
- Pa. Supreme Court Justice McCaffery suspended in email porn scandal
- Rookie Bryant sparks deep passing game for Steelers in victory
- Steelers-Texans game changers: Bell’s 43-yard catch provides spark
- Armstrong County to try Welshman on indecent assault, related charges