'Kill for thrill' shooter from Washington Twp. gets more time to appeal death sentence
Michael Travaglia will have another three months to file an amended appeal of his death sentence for killing a police officer more than three decades ago.
Travaglia's court-appointed defense lawyer filed court documents in Westmoreland County on Wednesday claiming he needs additional time to investigate allegations of errors made during a 2005 resentencing trial.
“Following conference with the defendant, counsel has identified additional claims of err (sic) which require investigation,” wrote defense attorney Jeff Miller.
Judge John Blahovec granted the extension, giving Miller until Sept. 27 to file a formal motion for post-conviction relief.
Travaglia, 54, of Washington Township, was convicted and sentenced to death in 1981 for the Jan. 3, 1980 shooting death of Apollo police Officer Leonard C. Miller.
Following the retrial in 2005, Travaglia was again condemned to death. Gov. Tom Corbett signed a death warrant for Travaglia earlier this year, but it was stayed after Blahovec ruled a pending appeal Travaglia wrote by hand from his prison cell had to be litigated.
Miller was appointed to flesh out the potential appeal. On Wednesday, the attorney declined to discuss specifics of the case.
“I don't want to go into those things he claims there are,” Miller said. “I'll have to take a look at them.”
Travaglia and John C. Lesko, 54, of Pittsburgh's Lincoln Place neighborhood, were convicted in the “kill for thrill” murders of four people between Christmas 1979 and Jan. 3, 1980.
Miller, a 21-year-old rookie police officer, was the last man to die in the spree that left dead Peter Levato of Pittsburgh's North Side; Marlene Sue Newcomer of Leisenring, Fayette County; and William Nicholls of Mt. Lebanon.
Travaglia shot Miller during a traffic stop in Washington Township as the killers were driving Nicholls' sports car, which they had stolen after dumping him into a freezing Indiana County lake.
Levato was the first person killed. Travaglia and Lesko forced him into a car, drove him from a Pittsburgh strip club and shot him at Loyalhanna Dam. Newcomer was killed after she picked up Travaglia and Lesko in Delmont as they hitchhiked their way home after the Levato murder.
Lesko is also on death row for Miller's murder. His case is on appeal.
Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293.
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.
- Women to stand trial in theft of drugs from Norwin Pharmacy
- Fracking foes pack zoning discussion in Ligonier Township
- WCCC plans 25% tuition increase for 2015-16
- Westmoreland judge offers Court in the Classroom
- Dog found shot dead in cardboard box in Derry Township
- Westmoreland drug task force plans fundraising efforts
- Loyalhanna mother appeals conviction in beating of 3-month-old daughter
- WCCC delays new building opening until fall
- Geneva College student died of heart-related natural causes, coroner says
- Seder in Greensburg looks beyond Jewish community
- Police searching for man who pulled over high school student in Export