20 July 2020 :
Man once on death row sentenced on 3rd-degree murder plea. Thomas Gorby was sentenced Monday in Washington County in the killing of 38-year-old Drayton Sphar in 1985. Gorby was convicted of 1st-degree murder and robbery and sentenced to death, but the state Supreme Court ordered a new sentencing hearing, saying the defense should have raised Gorby's mental health as a mitigating factor. Prosecutors in 2011 opted not to pursue the death penalty and Gorby was sentenced to life in prison. A federal judge later said a "diminished capacity" defense would have allowed Gorby to acknowledge having committed the homicide while disputing that he intended to kill the victim. Citing Gorby's history of drug and alcohol abuse as well as mental health problems, the judge said he should either get a new trial or be released. The maximum sentence in Pennsylvania in 1985 for third-degree murder was 10 to 20 years' imprisonment, and Gorby has been incarcerated since 1986, when he was arrested in Texas. The judge sentenced him to that and to a maximum of 18 to 26 years on the robbery conviction. Defense attorney John Giselson said after the hearing that his client's maximum sentence would end April 24, 2022. He called the plea a compromise, citing the death of witnesses and his client now being more than 60 years old. Gorby has been educated in prison and is now drug- and alcohol-free, Giselson said.