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Superior Court Upholds Spotz Conviction
April 8, 2014
CLEARFIELD - 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.
 
The 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 wounding him.
 
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.

After 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.

On 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.

On 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.               

Spotz 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.

The 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.

Shaw 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.

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