Dismissal sought in 1980 Pa. firebomb murder case
GETTYSBURG — One of two men charged in the firebombing and shooting deaths of a woman and her daughter in central Pennsylvania more than three decades ago is seeking dismissal of the case.
Erasmo Cruz, 56, and another man are charged in the August 1980 slayings of 41-year-old Nancy Patterson and 18-year-old Deborah Patterson.
Police have said Molotov cocktails were thrown into the Freedom Township home and the mother and daughter were shot to death by masked men when they ran outside.
Cruz was brought from Puerto Rico to face charges of criminal homicide, conspiracy, arson and burglary. Officials said witnesses told them in 2010 that Cruz, who had been involved with Deborah Patterson, was “extremely jealous and abusive” and she had just ended their relationship.
Defense attorney Karl Rominger argued in documents filed Friday in Adams County Court that developing an adequate defense is impossible because witnesses have died and survivors' memories have faded, The (Hanover) Evening Sun said.
A relative of one of the victims was originally charged but acquitted at trial in 1981.
Rominger's motion cites the earlier charges against another man and said the commonwealth failed to preserve the transcript of that trial, which is now unavailable.
The lack of that record, he said, means a fair trial is not possible.
“There is no reason to believe anybody destroyed anything intentionally,” Rominger said. “But the case law states that it doesn't matter how the transcript was lost.”
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.
- Husband charged in ax murder of wife hangs himself in cell
- Pa. Senate approves ‘paycheck protection’ constitutional amendment
- ‘Tipping point’ near for Pa. government, conservative expert predicts at Freedom Forum
- Cochranton farm specializes in growing out-of-season vegetables
- As House looks to dismantle state stores, hybrid system might be option
- Liquor privatization bill clears Pennsylvania House panel
- 242 Pennsylvania workers not state residents
- Western Pennsylvania shivers toward record for coldest February
- State could join feds in job training probe
- PEMA, National Guard helping Bradford after water runs dry
- Walking gets increasingly deadly for pedestrians in Pa.