Appeal denied for Latrobe man convicted in fatal robbery attempt
The appeal of a Johnstown man convicted earlier last year of second-degree murder for his role in a botched robbery in front of his friend’s home in Latrobe has been rejected.
A three-judge panel of the Pennsylvania Superior Court denied the appeal filed by Austin Krinock, who contended he received an unfair trial because of what he claimed was an improper method used to select the jury in his trial. Krinock also maintained the evidence against him was insufficient to warrant the guilty finding.
Krinock, now 21, was one of three men convicted in the January 2016 shooting death of 20-year-old Daniel McNerny. Westmoreland County prosecutors contended Krinock, upset over a verbal slight, conspired with two others to rob a Pittsburgh area drug dealer, but the plan turned deadly when a Good Samaritan, McNerny, attempted to intervene.
Krinock is serving a sentence of 34 years to life in prison.
The appeals court rejected Krinock’s contention that Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court Judge Meagan Bilik-DeFazio did not allow his lawyer to question prospective jurors. Instead, the judge posed questions submitted by both the defense and prosecution.
Krinock also contended that, because he did not actively participate in the execution of the robbery nor was he directly involved in the fatal shooting, jurors should have found him not guilty of the murder charge.
“As stated by the trial court, the intent required for second-degree murder is inferred from Krinock’s intent to engage in a gunpoint robbery, and Krinock’s actions after he decided not to actively participate were insufficient to relieve him of liability for the tragic result of that robbery,” according to the appeal court’s ruling.
Prosecutors said Krinock purchased the gun used to kill McNerny and tossed a jacket from an upstairs window to the man who waited outside to commit the robbery.
The shooter, Zachary McGrath, 24, of Latrobe, in a separate trial was convicted of first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. A third man, Colin Gearhart, 21, of Latrobe was convicted of third-degree murder and is serving a sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison.
Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293, [email protected] or via Twitter .