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Judge issues orders for pending murder trial

Published November 23. 2010 05:01PM

Carbon County President Judge Roger N. Nanovic II issued orders concerning a pending murder trial.

Nanovic's orders were in response to various petitions filed in the case of Ernest Troy Freeby, 35, of Lansford. On Nov. 8 Nanovic conducted a hearing in which defense Atty. Paul Levy and District Attorney Gary F. Dobias each sought more information from each other in the case.

Freeby is accused of murdering his wife, Edwina Atieno Onyango.

Concerning the requests made by Dobias, Nanovic ordered Levy to "promptly provide" the names of any expert witnesses and the results and reports of examinations or any scientific tests or experiments made in connection with the case in which the defendant intends to introduce as evidence or which were prepared by a witness whom the defendant intends to call at the trial. Nanovic said this information must be supplied to the DA no later than Dec. 15.

Nanovic further ordered that if no report has been prepared by a expert who the defense intends to call at trial then Levy must supply to the DA a statement indicating the subject matter on which the expert is expected to testify, the substance of the facts to which the expert is expected to testify and a summary of the expert's opinon and the grounds for the opinion. That information must also be supplied no later than Dec. 15.

Finally, Nanovic ordered that defense counsel "shaw provide to the Commonwealth within fifteen today's date (Nov. 15), copies of any written or recorded or substantially verbatim oral statement by the witnesses the Defendant intends to call at the time of trial."

Nanovic also notes in his order that Levy advised the court that there exists no envelopes from greeting cards or other mailings reportedly sent by the victim Freeby. The state police investigation report indicated Freeby told them he had received such mailings from his wife after her disapparence.

In a separate order relating to information sought by Levy, Nanovic issued the following directive.

He denied Levy's request that all documents provided him by Dobias that had "redacted or blacked out" areas be restored with the blacked out areas eliminated.

Nanovic ruled that the areas blacked out contained primarily the addresses and phone numbers of witnesses and may also include Social Security numbers, dates of birth and driver's license numbers.

Nanovic noted that state rules of criminal procedure allows certain information be deleted at the discretion of the court. He said since none of the witnesses names are eyewitnesses the DA has a right to withhold personal information concerning those witnesses.

Nanovic also noted that Dobias said the personal information was blacked out for the protection of the witnesses. Dobias said a number of them have been approached by one or more individuals who claim to be associated with the DA's office, or state police, when they are not, and some who claimed to have been threatened and/or harassed by the defendant's investigator.

Nanovic further wrote, "Because the information which Defendant seeks to have disclosed is not the subject of mandatory disclosure and because Defendant has not shown that any of the information requested is material to the preparation of his defense, keeping in mind that the names have been disclosed, Defendant's request to provided clean and unredacted discovery is denied."

Nanovic did rule that Levy is entitled to copies of all the hospital records the Commonwealth has obatined with respect to the alleged victim, Onyango. Nanovic said if the medical records contain any confidential HIV-related information, Levy is directed to maintain the confidentiality of the information and not disclose it to others except to the extent necessary to prepare for and provide a defense.

Nanovic also ordered the DA to provide Levy with a listing of all samples tested and also advise him whether any unused samples exist which can be retested. This refers to blood and other materials that were used for DNA testing.

The trial is scheduled for the January 2011 term of criminal court. There have been 10 continuances to date of the trial date.

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