Settlement sought in suit by man released after 25 years
EBENSBURG, Pa. (AP) — Attorneys are trying to reach an out-of-court settlement in a lawsuit filed by a Pennsylvania man freed from prison after 25 years after he was granted a new trial in the slaying of his estranged wife.
Kevin Siehl, 60, had been serving a life term in the July 1991 death of Christine Siehl, who was found stabbed to death in a bathtub with the shower still running in her Johnstown apartment.
Charges against him were dismissed in 2016 after a judge said prosecutors were wrong not to disclose blood evidence that may have helped his defense. Prosecutors said they didn’t believe they could prove their case 25 years later. Siehl last year filed suit against prosecutors, city police and state police forensic investigators.
The (Altoona) Mirror reports that the parties indicated last week they will enter the federal court’s Alternative Dispute Resolution program, a step that could lead to an out-of-court settlement.
They agreed to an “early neutral evaluation” of the case, a process in which the case will be reviewed with an attorney with expertise in civil litigation. The process is to be completed no later than May 31.
Senior Judge David Grine, in ordering a new trial, said prosecutors wrongly withheld evidence from retesting of what appeared to be blood on the defendant’s shoes. The new tests showed the blood was Siehl’s, not his wife’s, as prosecutors contended, yet that evidence wasn’t turned over to Siehl’s lawyers. Failure to disclose that evidence, Grine said, “so undermined the truth-determining process that no reliable adjudication of guilt or innocence could have taken place,” Grine wrote in July.
The judge also faulted the defense for failure to challenge evidence, including a bloody fingerprint used to tie Siehl to the crime scene. Not challenging the fingerprint “effectively admitted that (Siehl) was the murderer,” Grine said.
Information from: Altoona Mirror, http://www.altoonamirror.com