A Pennsylvania court has reinstated the six- to 12-year prison sentence of a Franklin County man found guilty in the shooting death of his neighbor.
The Superior Court ruling reverses the order of Court of Common Pleas Judge Richard Walsh, who last year overturned the conviction and sentence of 41-year-old Chad Kirby on one of the grounds Kirby raised in post-trial motions - that his attorney was ineffective at his trial.
Kirby argued at trial that he shot 35-year-old Andrew Santo Buttermore in self-defense and in defense of his two small children the night of August 13, 2009 after Buttermore smashed a window out of Kirby's home on Lindsay Lot Road in Southampton Township.
Kirby admitted at trial that after he and
Buttermore fought on his front lawn, he got a handgun from his home and
attempt to scare away Buttermore, who then broke several items on
Kirby's front porch with a baseball bat before breaking the window.
said he then returned to his house, put the handgun away and loaded his
shotgun. He said he heard the sound of glass breaking, saw Buttermore
at a window and fired.
Prosecutors said Buttermore was killed by a single gunshot wound to his back.
The jury was charged on the defense that Kirby was justified in shooting Buttermore to protect himself and his children, but it rejected his argument and found him guilty of voluntary manslaughter.
During a post-trial hearing, Kirby argued his trial attorney failed to request that the jury be charged on another justification: the use of force in defense of property.
His trial attorney, Eric Weisbrod, said during the post-trial hearing that he did not raise the defense of property issue because Kirby had always claimed he fired the fatal shot to protect himself and his family, not to protect his property, and he did not want to be inconsistent with Kirby's testimony.
In his opinion and order, however, Judge Walsh said Weisbrod's decision was unreasonable, and that his course of action resulted in prejudice to Kirby.
Franklin County District Attorney Matthew Fogel, who appealed Walsh's order, said the Commonwealth is "very, very pleased with the decision" to reverse the decision and reinstate Kirby's sentence.
"I am not at all shocked to have won the appeal, as the law was clearly on our side," Fogel said.