The execution of
Michael Singley, a Chambersburg man who murdered two people in
November 1998, has been delayed following an order issued by a federal
U.S. Middle District
Judge John E. Jones III was required to issue a stay of execution after
Singley, 29, requested an attorney during a hearing in Williamsport.
Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell signed an execution warrant last month
against Singley, scheduling his execution for 2006, April 6.
Singley pled guilty in
August 2000, to first-degree murder and other charges in the stabbing
death of Christine Rohrer, the wife of his cousin Travis Rohrer.
A month later, Franklin
County Judge Douglas Herman found Singley guilty of first-degree murder
in the shooting death of his cousin's neighbor, Jim Gilliam, who
confronted him after the incident.
Singley raped Rohrer
and bound her with duct tape in her home on election night in November
1998, after he told her he had car trouble and needed to use her phone.
He stabbed her 20 times and then stabbed and shot her husband Travis
Rohrer, when he came home. Travis Rohrer recovered from his wounds.
As he left his cousin's
home, Singley fired two shots at Gilliam and his fiancee, Deb Hock. One
shot killed Gilliam.
Singley was sentenced
to death for Rohrer's murder and life in prison without parole for the
murder of Gilliam. He also received up to 94 additional years in prison
for attempted murder, rape, criminal trespass and theft.
Gov. Rendell signs execution
warrant for double murderer
February 17, 2006
Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell earlier
this week signed an execution warrant for Michael B. Singley, convicted
in a 1998 double murder in Chambersburg, but it is unlikely he will die
by lethal injection April 6.
"Based on Pennsylvania's track record, I don't think
the odds are real great it will be carried out on that date," Franklin
County District Attorney John F. Nelson said Wednesday.
Clinton Barkdoll, the attorney who represented
Singley in his appeal to the state Supreme Court, also said it is
unlikely the execution will be carried out any time soon.
A jury sentenced Singley, now 29, to death in January
2001 for the Nov. 3, 1998, stabbing death of Christine Rohrer, 23, the
wife of his cousin, Travis Rohrer, at the couple's Elder Street home. He
also was convicted of 1st-degree murder and sentenced to life for the
shooting death of Rohrer's neighbor, 39-year-old James Gilliam.
Singley also was convicted of stabbing and shooting
Travis Rohrer, who survived the attack, and for the attempted murder of
Gilliam's companion, Deb Hock.
Singley pleaded guilty in 2000 to first-degree murder
in Rohrer's death and to criminal homicide in the death of Gilliam. That
was followed by a degree of guilt hearing before Franklin County Judge
Douglas W. Herman, who found Singley guilty of 1st-degree murder in
Gilliam's death, according to court records.
A penalty phase hearing for the killings was later
held with a jury imposing the death penalty for Rohrer's murder after a
week of testimony.
"It's hard to imagine an uglier scenario," Nelson
said of the case. "There are mixed emotions about the death penalty ...
If there's a case that would warrant it, this would be one."
Singley went to the Rohrers' home that night, bound
Christine Rohrer with duct tape, then raped and stabbed her, according
to Chambersburg police. When Travis Rohrer returned home later, Singley
shot and stabbed his cousin.
As he was leaving the duplex, Gilliam and Hock
arrived home and Singley shot Gilliam in the chest with a handgun,
police said. He also fired at Hock, but missed, and she fell to the
ground pretending to be dead, according to trial testimony.
In November 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a
writ of certiorari to hear Singley's case, Nelson said. The writ was
based on an assertion that the victim impact statements by Christine
Rohrer's husband and family had violated his rights of due process, he
Barkdoll said Singley's death penalty was affirmed by
the Supreme Court about a year ago, but "Mike still has federal appeals
that are pending and he hasn't begun to pursue PCRA (Pennsylvania's
Post-Conviction Relief Act) relief, which would typically be the final
step once all the appeals are exhausted."
Barkdoll said he expects a federal public defender to
soon file for a stay of execution. The appeals process, he said, could
go on for years.
Since receiving the death penalty, Singley has been
incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution Greene in Waynesburg,
Pa., Barkdoll said. Death row inmates are isolated from the general
population and remain in their cells all but one hour a day for exercise
periods, he said.
Since the state reinstituted the death penalty 3
Pennsylvania has carried out 3 executions, according
to the Web site for the Death Penalty Information Center. The executions
took place between 1995 and 1999, it stated.
Pennsylvania has 231 inmates on death row, according
Albert Reid, convicted of the 1996 murders of his
estranged wife and stepdaughter, is the only other person from Franklin
County on death row, Nelson said.