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Reddinger won't get a trial

Renatta Signorini
| Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Kittanning man serving 15 to 30 years for shooting and killing his uncle has been denied a trial.

Christoffer Bradley Reddinger, 24, had argued that his attorney David DeFazio was ineffective. Reddinger pleaded guilty to third-degree homicide in September in the killing of his uncle, James Allen Frederick, 44, of Kittanning.

Frederick was shot on Dec. 18, 2006, as he was leaving his custodial job at Kittanning High School around 10:30 p.m., according to court documents. After accompanying his parents to the state police station in the hours after the shooting, Reddinger confessed to the crime. He had been having racing thoughts at the time of the shooting, he has said.

Senior Judge Joseph Nickleach denied Reddinger's request last week, saying in a written opinion that he "does not believe that trial counsel was incompetent in advising defendant to accept the guilty plea offer."

The offer came after Reddinger's confession was permitted as evidence in the case after a suppression hearing. In a petition filed under the Post-Conviction Relief Act, Reddinger wrote that his attorney advised him to waive his right to appeal the judge's decision regarding his statement and accept the plea.

Nickleach described that recommendation as "quite reasonable."

During a hearing on the matter in April, Reddinger told Nickleach that he believed pleading guilty was in his best interest at the time, but after researching and reading transcripts while in jail, he thought the chance of winning an appeal on the suppression issue may be possible. Reddinger and his attorney expected that the homicide charge would be dropped if they won the suppression argument.

Reddinger's attorney had sought to suppress the confession because of his mental state -- psychiatrists have diagnosed the defendant with bipolar disorder. In his petition, Reddinger contended that he was interrogated by police without being read his rights.

A petitioner can argue ineffective counsel and violation of constitutional rights under the Post-Conviction Relief Act within a year of judgement.

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