Convicted murderer, now 40, seeks release
The attorney for a former Fayette County man who was sentenced to life in prison for a homicide he committed when he was 17 has filed an amended appeal seeking his release.
Joseph H. Metts, 40, was convicted of first-degree murder in May 1993 in the fatal shooting of Fayette County corrections officer Piper Newland, 40.
Metts was accused of killing the guard during a robbery that netted him $50, according to court records.
Newland was shot on Jan. 5, 1992, as she walked to her home on North Gallatin Avenue in Uniontown, just a few blocks from the county jail. Her neighbors heard gunshots, looked out the window and saw her lying on the sidewalk.
Divers recovered the murder weapon from Coolspring Reservoir, records show.
An appellate court later granted Metts a second trial.
On May 4, 2000, Metts was convicted of second-degree murder, robbery, theft by unlawful taking and theft by receiving stolen property.
He was sentenced that same day to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole on the murder charge and a consecutive 10-to-20-year term of imprisonment on the robbery charge. The additional robbery sentence was later dismissed as an included, lesser felony under second-degree homicide.
Metts represented himself in 2012 when he filed an appeal under the Post Conviction Relief Act to challenge his sentence.
He cited the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Miller vs. Alabama, which found that mandatory life sentences automatically given to juveniles are unconstitutional.
A hearing on Metts' appeal was never held, but it was dismissed in county court when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court later ruled the Miller decision was not retroactive.
Metts appealed to state Superior Court, where a panel of judges found that because he was not provided an attorney for his self-filed appeal, he would be given another opportunity to make his case via an amended petition.
Jeffrey Whiteko, Fayette's public defender, is seeking an evidentiary hearing, according to the latest appeal, filed on May 30.
Whiteko argues that the courts erred by not holding the hearing for Metts and others serving life sentences for crimes they committed as juveniles.
“It is clear that evidentiary hearings should have been conducted on all cases, including the appellant's case,” Whiteko wrote. “Simply denying the petitioner's post-conviction hearing without a hearing denies all process.”
A hearing date has not been set.
Liz Zemba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or email@example.com.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.
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.
- Connellsville Polar Bear Club ready for New Year’s
- Greater Connellsville chamber seeks nominations
- Lynn: Fayette communities enjoying holidays
- Betters is recognized at Connellsville Canteen
- Connellsville teen charged in attack on 80-year-old man, daughter allowed to play high school basketball
- Trinity United Presbyterian offers Festival of Lessons and Carols
- ArtWorks Connellsville hires gallery manager
- Fayette man faces prison for mail fraud
- Connellsville/Scottdale Chapter of the Salvation Army needs volunteers
- Uniontown self-help book author finds ‘Inner Peace’ through writing
- Connellsville man admitted drinking, fighting with victim before deadly 2013 crash, trooper testifies