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    1. #1

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      David C. Copenhefer - Pennsylvania

      Facts of the Crime:

      Convicted and sentenced to death in the 1988 kidnapping and murder of Sally Weiner, a 37-year-old wife and mother of two.

    2. #2
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      Decision of the District Court to grant habeas corpus for the sentence of death reversed. Full habeas denial.
      http://www.ca3.uscourts.gov/opinarch/039000p.pdf

    3. #3
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      The vote was two to one to uphold Copenhefer's death sentence. All three judges were Clinton appointees. Even Judge McKee, who voted to overturn McKee's sentence, wrote in his dissent that, in all his years of judging, he had rarely seen a case where there was less doubt as to a defendant's guilt.

    4. #4
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      Copenhefer death sentence upheld in Erie County murder

      David Copenhefer's reprieve from death row has expired -- for now.

      A federal appeals court has reversed a lower-court ruling and upheld the death sentence for the 65-year-old Copenhefer. An Erie County jury in 1989 convicted him and sentenced him to die for kidnapping and fatally shooting Sally Weiner, near Corry, in 1988.

      In a 2-1 decision released Thursday, a three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in Philadelphia, agreed with Erie County District Attorney Jack Daneri, who argued the case at a May hearing and who was in law school when Copenhefer was convicted.

      Daneri said the jury properly considered all the mitigating and aggravating circumstances when the panel, at the urging of then-District Attorney William R. Cunningham, convicted Copenhefer of first-degree murder and imposed the death penalty.

      "We are pleased with the decision," Daneri said. "It is the correct decision."

      The ruling for the prosecution came despite the 3rd Circuit's recent penchant for granting relief to death-row inmates, including those from Erie County, which once had five inmates awaiting capital punishment. Copenhefer is one of two Erie County inmates who remain on death row.

      "I was not getting my hopes up," Daneri said.

      The Defender Association of Philadelphia, which represents Copenhefer, could appeal to the full 3rd Circuit Court or to the U.S. Supreme Court. The lawyer on the case, Matthew Lawry, of Philadelphia, did not immediately respond to a message.

      "It has gone on a long time. I'm sure there is more to occur," said Harry Weiner, 61, the husband of Sally Weiner, who was 37 years old when she was killed. "I am just glad the ruling is where it is at, and we will go from there."

      Harry Weiner said he is not a proponent of the death penalty, though he said it should apply to certain cases -- such as that of Copenhefer, who was convicted of holding Sally Weiner for ransom and demanding money from Harry Weiner, then a banker.

      "I think the whole world would agree," Harry Weiner said, "that this is one of those cases."

      Copenhefer went to federal court after losing on appeal in the Pennsylvania courts. Thursday's ruling overturned a 2002 decision by Senior U.S. District Judge Maurice B. Cohill Jr., who threw out Copenhefer's death sentence and ordered a new sentencing hearing.

      Cohill ruled the jurors did not properly weigh Copenhefer's prior clean record and arbitrarily sentenced him to die. Cohill said the mistake violated Copenhefer's Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment.

      The 3rd Circuit found the jurors adequately considered what the defense said were Copenhefer's mitigating factors, including his lack of a prior record. The panel said the jurors properly found the aggravating factors outweighed the mitigating factors and sentenced Copenhefer to die.

      According to the 25-page majority opinion, by U.S. Circuit Court Judge Maryanne Trump Barry and published as precedent: "The verdict rendered by Copenhefer's jury indicates that not a single juror believed that his lack of a prior record -- or, indeed, any of the many potential mitigating factors argued by defense counsel -- mitigated the painstakingly planned murder about which the jury heard at trial."

      U.S. Circuit Court Judge Thomas L. Ambro joined the majority opinion. Theodore McKee, the chief judge of the 3rd Circuit, dissented on the death-penalty issue. He said the jury failed to properly weigh Copenhefer's lack of a prior record.

      At the same time, McKee agreed with his colleagues that the jury had more than enough evidence to convict Copenhefer of first-degree murder. The evidence included drafts of ransom notes found in Copenhefer's trash and a 22-point plan for the kidnapping scheme found on his computer.

      McKee wrote in his 19-page dissent: "Much has been said and written about the dangers of executing an innocent defendant; this is not such a case ... I can truthfully say that I cannot recall a case where the evidence against a defendant was stronger than the evidence the commonwealth marshaled against Copenhefer.

      "He is clearly guilty; but, of course, that is not the issue in this case."

      http://www.goerie.com/article/201209...-County-murder
      A uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    5. #5
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      Convicted Killer Copenhefer Dies

      An Erie County death row inmate is dead. A spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections said that 65 year old David Copenhefer died Sunday of natural causes at the state prison in Greene County.

      Copenhefer was sentenced to death by an Erie County jury for the 1988 kidnapping and murder of 37-year old Sally Weiner, the wife of a Corry banker. It was part of a scheme by Copenhefer to extort money.

      He was just one of two local inmates on Pennsylvania's death row.

      Copenhefer had spent years fighting to overturn the death sentence. Just last year, a federal appeals court upheld that sentence, after considering arguments from Erie County District Attorney Jack Daneri.

      http://www.erietvnews.com/story/2059...openhefer-dies
      A uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    6. #6
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      Good riddance to bad rubbish.

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