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Deliberations continue in Cambria murder trial

Paul Peirce
| Monday, Dec. 8, 2003

A Cambria County jury was unable to reach a verdict Sunday in the first-degree murder trial of a New Germany man accused of killing a state trooper in a shootout last year.

Jurors deciding the fate of the defendant, Mark Leach, 46, deliberated six-and-a-half hours before being sent home at 9 p.m. by Judge Norman Krumenacker. Jurors were instructed to return at 8 a.m. today to resume deliberations.

Krumenacker dismissed the jury after jurors asked to listen to the instructions on the various degrees of murder Leach could be convicted of.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Leach.

Krumenacker said he would re-read the charge to jurors at the start of today's session.

Defense attorneys argued during the 10-day trial that Leach, who had a .20 percent blood alcohol level, was too intoxicated to form intent to kill Trooper Joseph J. Sepp, 34, a 10-year veteran of the Ebensburg barracks.

Under state law, jurors may take into consideration someone's intoxication level to lower first-degree murder to third-degree, which is punishable by 20 to 40 years in prison.

At 4:30 p.m., jurors also were bused to the Ebensburg barracks to view Leach's jeep, which was damaged by bullets in the Nov. 9, 2002, shootout with police in Ebensburg.

Sepp was shot once in the head and died the following day at Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown.

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