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Slickville killer says bad math poisoned his trial

Rich Cholodofsky
| Friday, May 23, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

A Slickville man serving life in prison for the 2006 murder of his former girlfriend told a Westmoreland County judge on Thursday he deserves a new trial because of a math error.

David M. Shadle, 29, in an appeal crafted without an attorney, contends an incorrect physics formula was used during his trial by forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht when he testified about the force used to kill 19-year-old Jessica Aaron, a sophomore at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

“Dr. Wecht's incorrectly stating Newton's Second Law of Motion provided his rationale for calling defendant, quite simply, a liar,” Shadle wrote in his appeal.

Shadle was convicted of first-degree murder during a two-week trial in 2007.

Prosecutors contended Shadle became enraged after he and Aaron were intimate, and she received a telephone call from another man.

Evidence at the trial suggested Shadle choked Aaron, then tied a plastic bag over her head. She suffered a serious head wound from striking a piece of furniture.

In his most recent appeal, Shadle contended Wecht discounted Shadle's defense based on the rules of physics.

In court on Thursday, Shadle said his math teacher at the State Correctional Institute at Graterford, where he is serving his life sentence, believes Wecht used the wrong physics formula to render his opinion.

District Attorney John Peck said Shadle's appeal is too late and that Wecht did not testify about the amount of force used to cause Aaron's head injuries.

“There were other causes of death — asphyxiation and strangulation,” Peck argued.

Shadle on Thursday again denied he strangled Aaron and said he should have been found guilty of a lesser charge, such as voluntary manslaughter or third-degree murder.

“I did not have a fair trial, and I was wrongly convicted,” Shadle said.

Peck was given 30 days to submit a written legal argument.

Shadle lost a previous appeal of his conviction in which he claimed he received improper legal representation during the trial.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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