Lifer asks for 3rd trial in Manor shotgun slaying
Five years after he was convicted of first-degree murder for shooting a man in the back on railroad tracks in Manor, Jason Maple returned to court on Friday to ask for a new trial.
Maple contends he was poorly represented during two murder trials in 2008, when his lawyer should have prevented him from testifying and failed to present testimony indicating that Maple was too drunk to form a specific intent to kill.
But his former attorney has yet to make himself available to speak about his performance in the case because he's living across the country in seclusion after being suspended as a lawyer two years ago, Maple's new lawyer said in court on Friday.
Maple, 32, formerly of Penn Township, is serving a sentence of life in prison for the May 30, 2006, murder of William Teck, 25, of Hempfield.
Maple's first trial in 2008 ended in a mistrial.
During his second trial, prosecutors said Maple led a group of four men and his girlfriend, Jennifer Vinsek, to Manor after being told Teck had attempted to rape Vinsek.
Teck and a friend, Patrick Altman, were lured out of a nearby diner to the railroad tracks, where Maple, armed with a shotgun, followed them, prosecutors said.
Maple fired the gun, mortally wounding Teck and wounding Altman.
Vinsek was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.
The three other men involved in the killing pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and testified against both Maple and Vinsek.
In court on Friday, Bruce Antkowiak, a law professor at St. Vincent College, testified Maple's former defense attorney, Mark Lancaster, presented the wrong defense at trial.
Lancaster had argued that Maple suffered from a sudden and intense rage and should have been found guilty of a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter.
But Antkowiak said the defense should have focused on Maple being too drunk to form an intent to kill, a finding that would have resulted in a conviction on a charge of third-degree murder.
“This was simply not a voluntary manslaughter case at all,” Antkowiak said.
The defense presented no evidence during the trial as to how Maple's alcohol consumption would have impacted his ability to carry out premeditated murder.
Dr. Mark King, a Pittsburgh psychologist, testified Friday that Maple said he consumed about 30 beers, whiskey and wine on the day of the fatal shooting.
“He was unable to form an intent to kill,” King testified.
Maple, who testified Friday along with his mother, Susan Maple, said he attempted to have Lancaster continue his appeals.
An appeal to Superior Court filed by Lancaster was denied in 2010 and although Maple directed Lancaster to file an appeal with the Supreme Court, none was filed, Maple said.
Lancaster, who was suspended from practicing law in 2011, now lives in Grand Junction, Colo. He has ducked attempts to have him cooperate with the defense, Maple's new attorney, Caroline Roberto, told Judge John Blahovec.
Roberto said she will attempt to have Colorado officials issue a subpoena to compel Lancaster to testify in 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.