Court Upholds Spotz Conviction
- Clearfield County District Attorney, William A. Shaw, Jr., announced today
the Superior Court of Pennsylvania rendered a decision which affirmed the
Voluntary Manslaughter conviction of Mark Spotz.
underlying facts of Spotz's case were that on January 31, 1995, Spotz, who was
on parole for a robbery conviction at the time, and his brother, Dustin,
engaged in an argument at the home of their mother and stepfather in Clearfield
County. The argument started when Dustin's fiancée's teenage son placed a pet
gerbil in front of Spotz's face while he was watching television, resulting in
Spotz yelling at the child and threatening to physically harm him.This upset
Dustin, and the argument escalated into a physical confrontation, during which
Dustin stabbed Spotz twice in the upper back with a butter knife, slightly
Spotz then threatened to kill Dustin, and he proceeded upstairs,
returning with a handgun. Spotz fired eight shots at Dustin, two of which
fatally struck Dustin in the chest. After Dustin fell to the ground, Spotz
leaned over him, and spit on his face. Spotz and his girlfriend then fled the residence.
fleeing Clearfield County, Spotz subsequently committed three murders in
Schuylkill, York, and Cumberland Counties between February 1, 1995, and
February 3, 1995. On February 3, 1995, the police apprehended Spotz at a motel
in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
September 26, 1995. Spotz was convicted after trial by jury on the charges of
Voluntary Manslaughter, Aggravated Assault, Recklessly Endangering Another
Person, Carrying a Firearm Without a License and Former Convict Not to Own a
Firearm. On October 17, 1995, Spotz was sentenced to an aggregate term of
imprisonment of 17½ to 35 years.
Thereafter, Spotz was separately tried, convicted, and sentenced to death for
the three murders in Schuylkill, York, and Cumberland Counties.
January 16, 1996, Spotz filed a petition for Post-Conviction Collateral relief,
seeking to overturn his convictions and receive a new trial, because he claimed
ineffective assistance of trial counsel in the Clearfield County case. After
various appeals to both the Superior Court and Supreme Court, a hearing was
held on Spotz’s petition for Post-Conviction Collateral relief, and on March
31, 2010, President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman denied Spotz’s petition for
Post-Conviction Collateral relief.
appealed Judge Ammerman’s decision and on March 26, 2012, the Superior Court
granted Spotz relief on his claim that trial counsel was ineffective in failing
to object to portions of the prosecutor's cross-examination of Spotz, as well
as the prosecutor's closing argument, on the grounds that they included
impermissible and prejudicial references to Spotz's post-arrest silence. The
Superior Court, without deciding the remaining issues, reversed Spotz's
judgment of sentence and remanded for a new trial.
Clearfield County District Attorney’s Office appealed the Superior Court’s
decision, and on January 17, 2014, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania reversed
the Superior Court’s decision and remanded for resolution of the remaining
unresolved issues. Thereafter, on April 4, 2014, the Superior Court then
affirmed the decision of Judge Ammerman which denied Spotz’s petition, and
affirmed Spotz’s convictions.
stated that the District Attorney's Office has been litigating this case for
over 8 years, and he is extremely pleased with the decision of the Superior
Court. Shaw stated that victims deserve closure in these types of cases, and he
hopes that Spotz has exhausted all available appeals.