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DA asks jury to convict Mowry of first-degree murder in Ligonier

Rich Cholodofsky
| Wednesday, April 25, 2012, 8:45 p.m.

Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck this afternoon asked a jury to convict Anthony Mowry of first-degree murder for the 2008 slaying of Ligonier resident William McMichael Jones.

In a 60-minute closing argument, Peck told jurors that Mowry went to Jones' home with the intent to hurt the 75-year-old man. He said Mowry should be convicted of first-degree murder. That decision would send Mowry, 20, of Unity to prison for life without the possibility of parole.

Mowry, an AWOL soldier from Fort Hood Texas, is accused of fatally beating and stabbing Jones. The victim's body was found Sept. 17, 2008 in his ransacked home when firefighters came to extinguish fires that Mowry had set throughout Jones' apartment in the historic Mason House on East Main Street in Ligonier.

Firemen discovered the nude victim surrounded by debris and Mowry's murder weapons, including a meat cleaver, a cutting knife, weighted chimes from a grandfather clock and a candlestick, according to trial testimony. The badly beaten Jones died from two stab wounds to the heart, Dr. Cyril Wecht, a forensic pathologist, testified.

Peck told jurors that after Mowry started to beat Jones, Mowry had a choice to make. He could either leave behind the injured Jones or kill him, according to the prosecutor.

Mowry "was going to finish off what he started to do. He hated Mike Jones so much because he thought he was a pedophile. He was going to do what he thought was right and just," Peck said.

Public Defender Dante Bertani previously argued to jurors that Mowry acted in a fit of rage, brought on by a flashback of when Jones raped Mowry as a young teen. Mowry contends he was raped by Jones when Mowry was 13 or 14 years old, according to trial testimony.

Peck said Mowry was calculating in the way he lured Jones into the bedroom and later staged the crime scene to try to make it look like Jones had fallen prey to home invaders. Mowry set the home on fire before fleeing in the victim's car.

Judge Al Bell will give legal instructions to the jury, who are expected to begin deliberations this afternoon.

Bertani this morning asked jurors to convict Mowry of a lesser charge. He said Mowry did not act with deliberate intent.

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