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Man serving long prison term for part in murder, granted hearing

Published February 13. 2013 05:03PM

A Luzerne County man, serving a long prison sentence for his involvement in the murder of a Shenandoah drug dealer, was able to obtain an order from the Pennsylvania Superior Court which directs the county court to hold a hearing on his petition seeking modification of his sentence which the county court had denied.

Damon L. Ennett, 32, of 401 Green St., Freeland, who is serving a 13 1/2 to 27 years in a state correctional institution on the homicide charge filed an appeal asking the county judge, who imposed the sentence, for a hearing on modifying his sentence, but the judge denied his motion on grounds his time to file such a motion had expired.

In his appeal to the higher court from the denial Ennett claimed he was in transportation from the county prison to a state prison and had no access to a law library. He also claimed his plea of no defense was based on his being misguided by his public defender's counseling.

On Nov. 28, 2011, Ennett entered a plea of nolo contendre to murder in the third degree, burglary and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He received concurrent sentences on the burglary and aggravated assault which added no time on his sentence.

Ennett was charged with two others, Julius Enoe and Jahmal Ollivirre, both of Berks County, with the shooting death of Bruce Forker, Shenandoah.

The Commonwealth contended that the three men conspired to enter Forker's home at night and rob him of money and drugs because he was indebted to the them for a large sum of money for drugs he purchased. Ennett cooperated with the Commonwealth and testified at Enoe's trial that Enoe shot Forker in the head, killing him in an upstairs bedroom while Forker's girlfriend and her young child stood a few feet away.

Ennett cooperated when promised by the Commonwealth it would drop a first degree murder charge against him for testifying and would avoid life imprisonment. His appeals started after he found out a jury had found Enoe not guilty. The three men who entered the Shenandoah home were masked and the only witness who identified Enoe was Ennett and the jury did not believe him.

The Superior Court ruled that Ennett's request for post-sentence relief should have been treated by the court as a petition filed pursuant to the Post Conviction Relief Act. Since Ennett filed the petition pro se as he was no longer represented by a public defender after his sentence, the high court ruled an indigent petitioner seeking relief is entitled to a mandatory appointment of counsel. The case was remanded back to the county court for further proceedings.

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