Letters won't be used as evidence in North Union man's homicide trial
A letter that a Fayette County man wrote to the woman he is accused of killing in 2013 will not be used as evidence during his trial, a judge ruled on Wednesday.
However, incriminating statements made to police by Henry Clay Crawford, 57, of North Union and other evidence obtained by investigators can be presented by prosecutors, Judge Steve Leskinen ruled in a split decision on Crawford's pretrial motion.
Prosecutors will seek the death penalty against Crawford for allegedly breaking into the North Union home of Lisa Faye Tupta, 49, on Jan. 28, 2013, and fatally stabbing her. Tupta had a protection-from-abuse order against Crawford.
Police found Crawford, with a knife, hiding in the home. He underwent surgery at UPMC Presbyterian for stab wounds.
Tupta's family members have said she was acquainted with Crawford, but they were not in a relationship.
The defense was successful in having letters to Tupta and her son eliminated as evidence.
Leskinen ruled that Crawford had been read his rights against self-incrimination at Uniontown Hospital and had invoked them when a state trooper asked Crawford whether he would like to write the letters, providing him with paper and a pen.
The trooper was “not permitted to initiate further interrogation regarding the incident in question,” Leskinen ruled.
“The letters were incriminating and ... the court finds that defendant clearly did not ... waive his privilege against self-incrimination.”
The letters, which were later given to investigators, have been sealed.
A statement Crawford made to a trooper at UPMC Presbyterian can be used because Crawford initiated a conversation in which he recounted the attack and denied feeling sorry, Leskinen ruled.
Six search warrants were legally obtained, and investigators can use at trial the evidence gleaned from them, Leskinen ruled.
Search warrants were filed for numerous items, including Crawford's clothing, a DNA sample, electronic devices, weapons and data from Tupta's Facebook account.
Leskinen ruled that Crawford is competent to stand trial.
A request for a change of venue because of pretrial publicity was denied, but Leskinen wrote that the motion can be re-entered during jury selection if issues arise in seating an impartial panel.
There are sufficient grounds for prosecutors to seek capital punishment against Crawford, Leskinen ruled.
Cited as aggravating circumstances were previous violations of protection-from-abuse orders; the alleged killing was committed during the course of an alleged felony burglary; torture; and his significant history of felony convictions.
A trial date has not been set for Crawford, who is charged with homicide, burglary and aggravated assault. He is being held in the Fayette County Prison without bond.
Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or email@example.com.
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.
- Geibel announces homecoming court
- Project Talent fills Connellsville community center with creepy things
- WCVI owner: Building not that bad
- York Avenue Bridge could remain 1 lane for 3-5 years
- Car, bike show to outfit South Connellsville police
- Uniontown man to stand trial on drug, gun charges
- Tangled Up in Brew beer festival returns to Connellsville
- Apple Dumpling Festival planned at Connellsville Presbyterian Church
- ‘Zombieville’ rises again for Connellsville 5K race
- Falcons to host ‘Kitty Cat Game’
- Ambrosini won’t give up on new prison for Fayette County