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Palmerton man wants to pull plea in murder case

Published April 24. 2013 05:04PM

A Palmerton man, serving a 47 to 94 year sentence for third degree murder, wants to pull his guilty plea in the case.

Shane D. Roof, 34, had pleaded guilty to third degree murder for his part in the killing of Anthony Locascio, 21, of Hazleton. The murder occurred in September 2009 in East Union Township, Schuylkill County.

This week a county judge held a hearing on Roof's request to withdraw his plea and go to trial in the case.

Charged with Roof in the murder were Curtis T. Foose, Jeffrey A. Gombert, and Andrew T. Tutko II. State police said Locascio was beaten to death with a baseball bat.

Roof claims he didn't understand what was going on and was confused about his entering a plea. However, his attorney at the time, Kent D. Watkins, testified at the hearing that he spoke to Roof about the case many times and never saw any indication that he was confused about what was going on and his plea.

Roof entered his plea on Sept. 17, 2010, to the murder count, along with conspiracy, robbery, aggravated assault, theft, and simple assault. In exchange for the plea prosecutors withdrew charges of first and second degree murder. He was sentenced Nov. 5, 2010, by Judge Charles M. Miller to the state prison term.

Following testimony in the matter, Miller gave defense Attorney Andrew B. Zelonis, of Barnesville, until May 24 to file a brief supporting his reasons why the court should let Roof withdraw his plea.

He gave Assistant District Attorney Jennifer N. Lehman until June 3 to respond to Zelonis' brief.

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