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Convicted Hollow Tavern arsonist appeals sentence in Westmoreland court

| Monday, March 20, 2017, 4:33 p.m.
Steph Chambers | Trib Total Media
Original windows sit next to newer ones at the former Sleepy Hollow restaurant on Friday, Sept. 19, 2014 along Route 30 in Unity. Christopher Beam, owner of the Steel Wheel Grill at the restaurant, launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the renovations of the inside of the restaurant.

A Latrobe man convicted of torching the landmark Hollow Tavern in 2008 returned to a Westmoreland County courtroom Monday to claim his lawyer did not properly question witnesses during his trial.

Edgar Wiltrout, 64, is serving a 28-year sentence for arson at the restaurant along Route 30 in Loyalhanna Gorge, Unity Township. He maintained his innocence at trial.

Wiltrout contends his former defense lawyer, Allen Roth, never properly questioned a jailhouse informant who testified for the prosecution. His new defense lawyer, James Fox, said Roth should have challenged that witness' allegations that Wiltrout covered up the crime based on information he received from a family member of the state police detective who investigated the fire.

District Attorney John Peck said neither the trooper nor his family members who knew Wiltrout leaked information about the investigation.

Common Pleas Judge Richard E. McCormick Jr. said he will decide the appeal after reviewing written arguments.

The Hollow Tavern was rebuilt and briefly reopened under another name in 2014. It closed the following year.

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