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Computers being used as evidence in murder trial won't be returned to Greensburg woman

| Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

A visiting judge has refused to stay his ruling that allowed a Greensburg woman's computers to be shipped to West Virginia as part of an ongoing murder investigation.

The computers, seized in September from the home of Ruth Tatka, the legal secretary to Westmoreland County Judge John Blahovec, were taken to West Virginia last week.

Police retrieved the computers a day after Senior Judge Daniel Howsare of Bedford County denied a request from Tatka to have the computers returned to her.

Tatka's nephew and his wife were arrested in June by West Virginia police and are being held in jail awaiting trial on murder charges.

Sheriff's deputies in Marion County, W.Va., contend Michael Palmer, 32, and Kristyn Palmer, 30, plotted to kill 62-year-old Earl “Eddie” Wilson on Dec. 11, when he was fatally shot with an AK-47 assault rifle.

West Virginia investigators contend that Michael Palmer, while he was in jail, asked his aunt to rewrite letters and forward the correspondence to his wife, according to court documents filed with the search warrant executed on Sept. 20.

Pennsylvania State Police seized three computers and 33 handwritten letters and envelopes from Tatka's home.

Tatka, 59, has denied she wrote any letters for her nephew, who she maintains is innocent and that he shot his father-in-law in self-defense.

Tatka said on Monday she would not appeal Howsare's ruling.

“I just wanted them to clone the computers here,” Tatka said.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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