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Conviction upheld in Ligonier bar killing

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Friday, Nov. 15, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

An appeals court has upheld the first-degree murder conviction of a Texas man serving a life prison sentence for killing a Ligonier bar patron when they argued over a television news program in 2011.

A three-judge panel of the Pennsylvania Superior Court found there was enough evidence during the week-long trial last year to find Stephen Fromholz guilty of the murder charge.

Prosecutors said Fromholz fired one shot from an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle into the back of 65-year-old Donald Holler of Cook Township in Fat Daddy's Bar on July 22, 2011.

Fromholz, 43, of San Antonio was an out-of-work carpenter originally from the Ligonier area.

Witnesses testified that the two men argued in the restaurant and bar on Route 30 over a television news program on the war in Afghanistan. Fromholz left the bar, returned with the gun and shot Holler, they said.

Fromholz contended in the appeal that jurors did not properly weigh evidence that he was too drunk to form an intent to kill.

Westmoreland County Judge Al Bell, who presided over the trial, rejected a similar appeal earlier this year.

The appeals court rejected all of Fromholz's claims.

“... The trial testimony sufficiently demonstrated he was not so overwhelmed that he lost control of his faculties,” Judge Susan Peikes Gantman wrote in the 11-page ruling issued on Wednesday.

According to trial testimony, witnesses heard Fromholz say, “I'll show you what war is like,” before he raised the gun and fired the fatal shot.

Police said more customers could have been killed in the shooting.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293

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