By Konstantine Fekos
Double homicide and robbery convict Gary Wiley must wait for a ruling to determine whether the robbery conviction that provided the motive for his killing of a Linesville couple in 2010 can be overturned.
Crawford County Court of Common Pleas President Judge Anthony Vardaro, who deemed Wiley unfit for a new trial last year, presided over his Post Conviction Relief Act hearing Monday afternoon.
Attorney J. Wesley Rowden, Wiley’s defense counselor, introduced a potential alibi witness he claims wasn’t properly investigated prior to the initial conviction by Wiley’s prior defense attorney Robert Trambley, the county’s public defender.
The PCRA hearing heard the testimony of Wendy Kemling, a long-time customer of Wiley’s business, Gary’s Auto Repair in Linesville, who claims she went to Wiley for an oil change around the time of the robbery on April 2, 2010.
In his testimony, Trambley claimed several attempts to reach Kemling prior to Wiley’s conviction went unanswered.
Crawford County District Attorney Francis Schultz, representing the commonwealth, found fault with Kemling’s credibility based on inconsistencies in the supposed times at which she arrived and left Gary’s Auto as reported to Pennsylvania State Police and court officials.
Rowden in turn questioned the credibility Assistant District Attorney Craig Howe, who testified to sitting in on an interview with Schultz and Kemling on Jan. 28, 2013.
He accused Howe of omitting the fact that Kemling pointed out inaccuracies in her police report during that interview. Schultz and Howe, however, said she confirmed the report twice before changing her mind.
Schultz also explained that Vardaro gave Wiley the opportunity to name any witnesses who weren’t called in previous hearings prior to his conviction and Wiley failed to name anyone else or even question Trambley as to why Kemling wasn’t called.
Vardaro said he regularly asks if there are additional witnesses to give defendants a chance to say whether they’re satisfied with their representation and Wiley was no exception.
Wiley said he didn’t recall Vardaro’s questions.
Vardaro is expected to draft an opinion of the case at an unknown time, determining whether the new testimony will be dropped or a new trial will be given. In either case, each party will have 30 days to appeal the decision, Schultz said.
Wiley currently serves a 20-month to 120-month sentence for the robbery of the Rite Aid store in Linesville on April 2, 2010. He was convicted of robbery, theft and terroristic threats in Crawford County court on Jan. 20, 2011, following a jury trial.
He reportedly stole OxyContin, a highly addictive painkiller, and $350 in cash.
In March 2012, Wiley was convicted by a Crawford County jury of killing Tod Prenatt, 51, and his wife Laurie Prenatt, 44, at their Linesville-area home on April 10, 2010, because the Prenatts knew Wiley had robbed the Rite Aid drug store.
Wiley was sentenced to life in prison for the double murder of the Prenatts.
Trambley appealed the robbery conviction on different grounds, but lost, and Wiley’s sentence was upheld by the Superior Court on Jan. 26, 2012.
On Sept. 4, 2012, Vardaro appointed Rowden to represent Wiley after Wiley had filed his own appeal of the robbery case with county court, citing ineffective counsel. Rowden also had represented Wiley during his March 2012 double homicide trial in county court.
Konstantine Fekos can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.