Killer in Westmoreland County shooting case loses bid for new trial
A defense attorney for convicted killer Thomas William Wojnarowski did not err during a three-day trial in 2007 that resulted in a third-degree murder conviction, a judge ruled on Tuesday.
In an 11-page opinion, Westmoreland County Judge John E. Blahovec ruled there was no basis to overturn the jury's verdict and order a new trial for Wojnarowski.
Wojnarowski contended that his lawyer, Brian Aston, should have asked for a mistrial following the testimony of a police officer who told jurors about statements the defendant made after he was arrested.
Wojnarowski, 51, was convicted by a jury in September 2007 of shooting to death 21-year-old Chad Bonelli of Bell Township on Aug. 27, 2006, during an all-night keg party in East Huntingdon.
Prosecutors had sought a first-degree murder conviction, which carries an automatic sentence of life in prison.
Police said Wojnarowski lived next door to an apartment where Bonelli's sister and three young women were hosting the party. At the trial several witnesses testified that Wojnarowski had confrontations with the guests several times during the evening and morning. They testified that Wojnarowski repeatedly was asked to leave the apartment before Bonelli was shot.
In his appeal, Wojnarowski contended he did not agree with Aston's decision to forgo asking for a mistrial and instead making an argument to the jury for a conviction to a lesser offense.
The jury convicted Wojnarowski of a lesser charge of third-degree murder. He is serving a 20-to-40-year prison sentence.
“The defendant has failed to establish that the outcome of a second trial, if a mistrial had been moved for and granted, would have been different,” Blahovec ruled.
The judge noted that Wojnarowski never asked for a new trial on the basis that the facts presented against him at trial did not support the outcome of the case.
Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.