Prosecutors want John Kunco’s attorneys to turn over evidence in rape retrial
Westmoreland County prosecutors want defense lawyers for a former Harrison man accused of a brutal rape in New Kensington nearly three decades ago to turn over evidence that could be used during a retrial.
Assistant District Attorneys Barbara Jollie and James Hopson filed court documents Wednesday seeking reports and mental examinations of John Kunco and any other scientific tests and experiments conducted as part of his defense. They also want the defense to declare if it will seek an insanity defense or contend at trial that Kunco suffered from mental infirmity.
“The commonwealth has provided the defense with all materials in the commonwealth case file and any items requested by the defendant,” prosecutors said in their filing.
Kunco, 53, now of McKees Rocks, served 28 years in prison for the 1990 rape of a woman in her New Kensington apartment.
Kunco maintained his innocence during his original trial and as he served a 45-to-90-year prison sentence.
Westmoreland County Court Judge Christopher Feliciani overturned the conviction last year, ruling it was based on unsound scientific evidence that linked Kunco to healed bite marks on his alleged victim.
The judge ordered a new trial, saying newly discovered DNA evidence that does not specifically place Kunco at the scene of the rape could have swayed jurors at his first trial.
DNA evidence was not used to originally convict Kunco.
Kunco’s alleged 55-year-old victim has since died.
Kunco was represented by the Innocence Project of New York during his successful appeal. Pittsburgh attorney Thomas Farrell is now serving as his defense lawyer.
The judge in late December directed Farrell to file any pretrial motions on Kunco’s behalf within 60 days. No motions had been filed as of Wednesday, according to the court docket.
Meanwhile, Kunco is awaiting trial in Allegheny County on unrelated charges that he had improper sexual contact with a young child after he was released from prison on bond following after his conviction in the 1990 rape case was overturned.
That trial is scheduled to begin on March 28.
A date for his retrial on rape charges in Westmoreland County has not been scheduled.
Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293, [email protected] or via Twitter .