State court rules Indiana County man serving life for murder not entitled to forfeited property |
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Paul Peirce

A Saltsburg man serving a life sentence for the brutal 2013 slaying of an Indiana County gun shop owner lost his bid to have $18,733 and other seized assets returned to his family.

Jack O. Edmundson Jr., 49, who pleaded guilty to killing Frank S. Petro, 62, of Conemaugh Township to avoid a possible death sentence if convicted, had asked Commonwealth Court to return the money and items investigators seized, including ATVs, a trailer and accessories.

District Attorney Patrick Dougherty and state police successfully argued in court after Edmundson’s conviction that the cash in his bank accounts and items were obtained through an extortion plot that led to Petro’s shooting death inside Frank’s Gun & Taxidermy shop on Dec. 31, 2013.

Edmundson, a former Derry Township resident, admitted to shooting Petro four times. He initially claimed that the shooting was in self-defense, but video surveillance taken in the shop showed that Edmundson grabbed a small-caliber gun inside the Tunnelton shop and shot Petro during a brief argument, according to investigators.

Edmundson shot Petro after extorting $146,000 from him by posing as an undercover detective investigating Petro for the sale of illegal raffle tickets, according to police. After the shooting, Edmundson set the shop on fire.

“… Edmundson contended that the currency from the bank account was lawfully his and that he purchased the ATVs and other property with lawfully obtained funds,” the three-judge state appellate panel wrote in its opinion released last week.

“By contrast, the Commonwealth offered extensive credible evidence, including the expert testimony of a police investigator and an outside consultant, demonstrating that the $145,000 in brown bag lottery money Edmundson took from Petro was the only possible source of the currency in (his) bank accounts and the funds used to purchase the other seized property,” the court wrote.

In addition, the appellate court said Edmundson argued that the trial court was biased against him and as part of his plea agreement all of the property investigators seized was supposed be returned to him.

The appellate court ruled in its 15-page opinion that Indiana County Common Pleas Judge William Martin showed no evidence of bias.

Edmundson is serving his life sentence without parole in SCI-Benner Township in Centre County.

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