USA - Pennsylvania. Pa. Supreme Court overturned the death sentence of William Howard Housman

28 March 2020 :

Pa. Supreme Court overturned the death sentence of William Howard Housman, now 44, White. Housman was sentenced to death in Cumberland County on February 4, 2002 for the October 4, 2000 slaying of Leslie White, 18, White. The state’s highest court weighed in on the case after Houseman and county prosecutors both appealed a ruling by Berks County Judge Linda K.M. Ludgate granting a retrial on the death penalty issue. Ludgate heard Housman’s appeal on special assignment after Housman sought the recusal of the Cumberland County judges. Investigators said Housman and his live-in girlfriend Beth Ann Markman killed White because Markman was jealous due to Housman’s romantic relationship with White. Housman received his death sentence after a county jury convicted him of first-degree murder in 2001. Markman, who claimed during their joint trial that she was under duress at the time of the slaying because Housman physically abused her, also was sentenced to death initially. The Supreme Court ordered a retrial in 2007 but before it occurred Markman pleaded guilty in 2010 to charges including homicide and kidnapping in return for a life prison term. Justice Todd concluded in the opinion issued Thursday that Housman must receive a retrial on the death penalty because his defense attorney in 2001 was ineffective for not fully exploring factors that might have swayed the jury’s verdict on whether to impose capital punishment. Todd accepted Housman’s argument that his lawyer should have presented additional evidence regarding Housman’s inpatient hospital treatment for mental health issues and physical abuse as a child by his father, stepmother and others. Had that evidence been presented to the jury, the verdict regarding the death penalty might have been different, Todd found.


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