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Man appeals his conviction in Slickville murder

Rich Cholodofsky
| Thursday, Oct. 18, 2007

A Slickville man wants his first-degree murder conviction to be overturned because he claims his former lawyers did not present evidence during his March trial that he was too drunk to form an intent to kill his former girlfriend.

David M. Shadle, 22, was convicted in March and is serving a life prison sentence for the Oct. 26, 2006, suffocation and strangulation of 19-year-old Jessica Aaron. He was back in court Wednesday.

Shadle, who previously dated Aaron, met her in an effort to reconcile. They went out to dinner and became intimate in the bedroom of the Slickville home Shadle shared with a relative.

Shadle told police that he became angry when Aaron received a telephone call from another man she was dating at college. Aaron was a student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

A physical altercation followed and Shadle pinned Aaron on the bed, choked her for about 30 seconds, then tied a plastic grocery bag over her head to suffocate her, according to trial testimony.

Aaron suffered a serious wound when she struck her head on a section of bedroom furniture. Authorities said Shadle left her body on the floor of the bedroom, only to be found the next day by Shadle's uncle.

Shadle did not testify at the trial. His defense lawyers argued that Aaron's death was the result of an accident.

In court yesterday, Shadle's new defense attorney said evidence of excessive alcohol consumption should have been presented to the jurors through the testimony of a psychiatrist who examined Shadle after the slaying.

The psychiatrist would have testified that Shadle claimed to have consumed as many as eight beers before Aaron was killed.

"It would have given the jury a basis to find no premeditation on David's behalf," said defense attorney Jeff Monzo.

Assistant Public Defender Greg Cecchetti, who represented Shadle at the March trial, testified yesterday that Shadle initially claimed he drank only one beer that night.

"At no time did he say he was so drunk that he didn't know what he was doing," Cecchetti testified.

Prosecutors said there was no evidence that Shadle drank excessively during the hours before the killing.

District Attorney John Peck yesterday produced a restaurant receipt from where Shadle and Aaron ate dinner just hours before her death. That receipt indicated that just one bottle of beer was ordered.

Peck said workers from the restaurant were ready to testify at the trial to refute Shadle's story that he drank more than one beer that night.

Westmoreland County Judge Richard E. McCormick Jr. ordered written arguments to be submitted before he makes a ruling at a later date.

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