Meadville Tribune

October 5, 2013

Accused murderer backs off on public defender plan

By Konstantine Fekos
Meadville Tribune

MEADVILLE — Accused killer Richard A. Houy, who has about $400,000 in assets and income of about $3,000 a month, has apparently decided Crawford County taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for his lawyer.

On Friday, Houy was set to challenge a decision by the county Public Defender’s Office rejecting his request for a public defender to serve as his attorney. But when time for the hearing came in the Crawford County Court of Common Pleas, Houy appeared with attorney Harry White of the Jorden & White Law Firm in Meadville.

White agreed to represent Houy in his criminal case before President Judge Anthony Vardaro, stating he’s known the Houy family for the past several decades.

White, Houy and Robert Trambley, the county’s public defender, declined further comment. Trambley also declined to disclose income guidelines used to determine if a defendant should receive help from the Public Defender’s Office.

Houy, 68, of Cambridge Springs, has allegedly admitted to killing Erie County man Gerald P. Vandyke.

Houy is charged by Pennsylvania State Police with murder of the first degree, abuse of a corpse, tampering with or fabricating evidence and false reports to law enforcement.

According to a search warrant affidavit filed by state police, Houy, in an interview with troopers Sept. 25, allegedly admitted to killing Vandyke, the boyfriend of his daughter.

On Sept. 26, Houy’s request to be represented by the Public Defender’s Office was rejected on the grounds that his income and assets are well over the guideline limits set for free representation.

Houy appealed that decision and in an affidavit supporting his appeal filed Sept. 27, Houy lists up to $400,000 in assets as well as more than $3,000 per month in income for himself and $30,000 in total debt.

Konstantine Fekos can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at