Meadville Tribune

April 15, 2013

Wiley double murder trial costs at $90K and rising

By Jane Smith
Special to the Tribune

MEADVILLE — The double murder trial of Gary R. Wiley cost county taxpayers nearly $90,000, and the final tally of his prosecution appears likely to rise.

In a 2012 trial, Wiley, 39, of Linesville, was convicted of murdering Todd Prenatt, 51; and his wife, Laura, 44, at their home in 2010. A jury found Wiley guilty of the shooting deaths of the Prenatts, allegedly over their knowledge of Wiley’s involvement in a pharmacy burglary in Linesville. Wiley was sentenced to life in prison.

Most of the $90,000 spent on Wiley’s trial — a total of $70,000 — was attorney’s fees. Wiley was represented by two court-appointed defense attorneys. The court often appoints counsel in murder cases as the Crawford County Public Defender’s Office does not have the staffing to handle such time-consuming cases.

Other costs were: $7,603 for an expert witness and $11,183 in jury fees. However, the state reimbursed the county $3,008.66 for some of those costs, reducing the costs shown by the court administrator’s office to $85,377.34.

However, the sheriff’s office paid $3,504.44 for overtime costs of deputy sheriffs who were in the courtroom during jury selection out of his budget.

Crawford County Sheriff Nick Hoke said the latter didn’t include the fees paid to Forest County for deputies used during the jury selection.

Crawford County Court Administrator John Shuttleworth said the cost totals may not be complete, as the case is still on appeal and more costs may be incurred.

Crawford County District Attorney Francis Schultz said previously that his office incurred no additional expenses for the Wiley trial other than the ordinary trial costs budgeted. He called no expert witnesses, so there was no extraordinary expenses.

Wiley — as all defendants are — was entitled to defense attorneys as mandated by court rulings that say if a person cannot afford a defense attorney, one will be appointed to represent him. The court’s budget each year includes money for special trial counsel for various cases. Most are major crimes such as murder but they could include special appointed attorneys when the public defender’s office has a conflict of interest.

Although there was extra money spent for the trial, Shuttleworth said none of the fees caused the court to go over its budget. Shuttleworth said the Wiley case had been carried over from 2011 and court officials knew the case would be scheduled for trial in 2012. As a result, they included the increased costs for the court-appointed defense counsel in the budget when it was prepared.

Wiley recently appealed his conviction in the pharmacy burglary case, which was allegedly his motive for the murder.