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Man convicted of 1st-degree murder in church lot slaying

February 1, 2020 GMT

HOLLIDAYSBURG, Pa. (AP) — A man has been convicted of first-degree murder in a slaying in a Pennsylvania church parking lot where authorities alleged he and the victim squared off after a high-speed chase stemming from a drug deal gone bad.

The (Altoona) Mirror reports that Blair County jurors also convicted 35-year-old John Stiver II on Friday of conspiracy, theft, aggravated assault, evidence-tampering and other counts. He faces a mandatory life prison term without possibility of parole when he is sentenced April 21.

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Police allege that 58-year-old David Hoover Jr. paid Stiver and another man for cocaine in July 2018 but didn’t receive it. Authorities said he approached with a baseball bat toward Stiver, who was sitting in a car in the Altoona lot, and the defendant fired a shotgun through a window.

Defense attorney Kristen Anastasi argued that her client acted in self-defense. She said “This was not a plan” and her client’s only motive was “self-preservation. Period.” First Assistant District Attorney Pete Weeks said the defendant could have driven out of the parking lot rather than use deadly force.

Anastasi said she was “profoundly disappointed” by the verdict and vowed an appeal.