Admitted killer Adam Greenlee has been denied a new trial by Crawford County Court of Common Pleas.
President Judge Anthony Vardaro has dismissed Greenlee's petition to withdraw his guilty plea to first-degree murder for killing Patrick Kozminski at the GNC store in Vernon Township on November 30, 2017.
Greenlee claims his previous attorneys from the Crawford County Public Defender’s Office were ineffective in representing him; that his guilty plea was unlawfully induced; and government officials improperly obstructed his right to appeal.
On April 12, 2018, Greenlee pleaded guilty before Vardaro to first-degree murder and was given a life sentence without parole. It was part of a plea deal Greenlee made with the Crawford County District Attorney's Office to avoid a possible death penalty had the case gone to trial and Greenlee was convicted.
In issuing his ruling, Vardaro wrote Greenlee's admitted use of drugs the day of the murder was discussed extensively with Greenlee throughout his plea.
"The defendant (Greenlee) admitted that, although he woke up and did methadone and heroin on the morning of November 30, 2017, he was still able to drive the 23 to 26 miles from his home to the Vernon Township GNC store," Vardaro wrote. "He testified that, despite the drugs, he was still able to operate his truck safely. He stated that, even after he pulled into the parking lot of the GNC and injected more heroin, he was still able to sit in the parking lot and think about what he was going to do. Borrowing his phrasing, he was going 'back and forth' deciding whether 'I wanted to rob it.'"
Vardaro wrote Greenlee's own testimony under oath at the plea and sentencing hearing was clear.
"Given the defendant’s credible and detailed testimony describing his thought process before entering the GNC store, the court is satisfied that there is no merit to defendant’s argument that his counsel was ineffective for failing to present evidence of the diminished capacity defense," Vardaro wrote.
District Attorney Francis Schultz said he was pleased with the court's ruling.
"Judge Vardaro did an excellent job in explaining all of the necessary aspects of the law and all of the rights that Greenlee was giving up in entering a plea of guilty to murder in the first degree," Schultz said in a statement. "Judge Vardaro also allowed me to question Greenlee regarding what Greenlee did prior to, during and after the killing of Patrick Kozminski. This created the factual foundation regarding Greenlee’s guilty plea."
Schultz again commended Pennsylvania State Police investigators for their work in bringing Greenlee to justice.
Greenlee has 20 days to file a response to Vardaro's dismissal.
Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at email@example.com.