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Son found guilty of murdering his father

Published August 09. 2012 05:01PM

A Schuylkill County jury found Franklin Stumhofer Jr., 41, of Molino, guilty of third degree murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and recklessly endangering another person for the fatal shooting of his father, Franklin Stumhofer Sr., 61, of 6 Log Lane, West Penn Township.

The jury deliberated slightly more than six hours Wednesday afternoon at the courthouse in Pottsville.

President Judge William E. Baldwin fixed bail at $100,000 straight cash and deferred sentencing to a later date. He ordered a pre-sentence investigative report prepared by the adult probation department.

The commonwealth was seeking a conviction of murder in the first degree. The third degree murder charge carries a sentence range of 20 to 40 years.

He also was found guilty on three counts each of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, simple assault, and recklessly endangering Larry Miller, his brother-in-law, and two of his employees Samuel Stumhofer, a brother of the defendant, and Blain Schmeck. All three were in a truck driven by Miller when Stumhofer fired three shots that all hit the truck but didn't injure any occupants.

He was also found guilty of recklessly endangering his mother, Yong Stumhofer.

The father was killed on Sept. 7 around 1:30 p.m. when the son came to the home seeking money. The father slammed the door shut and the son fired six shots through a metal door with four bullets hitting the victim, two of which were fatal. The mother was in the house at the time of the shooting.

Before reaching its verdict the jury returned to court three times with questions asking for an explanation of the charges of murder in the third degree and involuntary manslaughter.

Baldwin was limited in explaining the meaning of the two charges as he had to stick to legal terms. He explained the clarification of each charge and told the jury it had to decide on what state of the mind the defendant was in when he committed the acts.

When word was circulated that the jury had reached its verdict, around 5 p.m., the courtroom filled with relatives and friends of Stumhofer, but his mother was not present. She had become hysterical the day before when called to testify. The mother, who is Korean, met her husband when he was serving in Korea with the armed forces.

Six deputy sheriffs also appeared and stood along the side where Stumhofer was seated, and one at each entrance into the courtroom. Stumhofer showed no emotion when the verdict was reached and was returned by the deputies to the county prison across the street.

Closing Arguments

In his closing argument to the jury, attorney Robert J. Kirwan II, counsel for Stumhofer, equated the trial with the creed of a newspaper reporter of answering five questions needed to give the full details on the story he is writing. The questions to be answered are: who, what, where, when and why. Kirwan claimed the commonwealth failed to produce testimony to show why Stumhofer shot his father or fired the shots at a truck carrying three occupants.

Kirwan told the jury his client gave the answer to the question "Why."

Stumhofer testified days leading up to the shooting that he was not in his right mind and blamed it on taking a month's supply of pain killing pills in a couple days which left him in a daze and he acted like a zombie. He testified that he did not recall any of the incidents that day, the shooting of his father or firing at a truck in Hamburg.

Stumhofer had testified he was in a serious motorcycle accident and his right leg was broken in seven places and he spent months in a hospital and more than a year in a wheelchair. He is now able to walk, but has a limp.

Kirwan argued the jury could not find him guilty of murder because it was not premeditated.

"The shooting occurred in the early afternoon hours and not in the dead of night and in front of neighbors, and then he drove from West Penn Township to a home high up on a mountain outside of Hamburg, and fired shots at a truck with three passengers, and then drove to the police station and surrendered. This was not actions by a person in his right mind," he told the jury.

He concluded by telling the jury this was not a murder case and there was no malice.

Assistant District Attorney Thomas Campion Jr., told the jury that Stumhofer knew what he was doing and was trying to place the blame on doctors and the medications prescribed. He said the reason he went to his father's home was to seek money as he testified he owed back rent and was being evicted. That's when his father slammed the door shut, and he calmly fired six shots into the door knowing his father was behind the door.

Campion also argued he knew where his brother-in-law, Larry Miller, lived outside of Hamburg and the reason he went to his home. There was testimony that Stumhofer called a friend, John Richards, who testified Stumhofer told him he shot his father and that he was looking for other people who had "screwed him."

Campion said Stumhofer knew what he was doing because there was testimony from police who found three pistols in his car including the 45 caliber gun used to kill his dad and a large amount of ammunition.

"This was a man with intent and a plan to do harm," Campion argued.

He asked for a verdict of guilty on the charges because the defendant was well aware of his actions.

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