Westmoreland judge defends ruling overturning rape conviction | TribLIVE.com

Westmoreland judge defends ruling overturning rape conviction

Rich Cholodofsky

A Westmoreland County judge Tuesday defended his decision to give a new trial to a Unity man accused of repeatedly raping a teen-aged girl for three years.

Common Pleas Court Judge Tim Krieger issued a three-page opinion in which he said evidence presented against Bruce Palmer, 34, during trial last year was not enough to warrant a conviction and the alleged victim’s emotional outbursts in court potentially swayed jurors towards a faulty verdict.

Krieger in April overturned Palmer’s rape conviction and his four to eight year prison sentence, a decision that has since been appealed by the county’s district attorney’s office. Prosecutors contend the judge abused his discretion and did not offer any reasons why a jury would have reached a different verdict.

“The court is well aware that it is not to act as a thirteenth juror or to reverse a conviction merely because it may disagree with the jury’s decision or would have decided the case differently if sitting as the finder of fact,” Krieger wrote. “The court, however, was in a unique position to view the trial as a whole and takes most seriously its obligation to ensure that the weight of the evidence supports a conviction.”

Krieger said he cited four specific reasons for vacating the guilty verdict.

He said the now 20-year-old victim’s testimony lacked corroborating detail and was vague about one specific incident. The judge questioned the accuser’s credibility with regards to her contention that Palmer raped her on a weekly basis for more than three years and the timing and context of her initial complaint.

Palmer contended at trial his accuser made up the allegations.

Krieger last month released Palmer from jail and ordered he be confined to his home pending the outcome of the appeal.

Palmer’s girlfriend, Marie Ann Farabaugh, 41, of Unity was convicted during the same trial of lesser charges. Jurors found her guilty of child endangerment and reckless endangerment for not intervening and stopping the alleged sexual assaults.

Farabaugh’s conviction was overturned and she is free pending the outcome of an appeal.

Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Local | Westmoreland
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.