9:44 PM EST, December 3, 2012
A St. Thomas, Pa., man who pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the Feb. 25, 2010, shooting death of his wife has been denied an opportunity to withdraw that plea by Franklin County (Pa.) Court of Common Pleas Judge Shawn Meyers.
Christopher T. Jones, 33, was given 30 days to appeal Meyers’ ruling dated Nov. 15, according to court documents.
Jones is serving at least six years in state prison in the shooting death of his then 27-year-old wife, Kristin Runyon. He entered a guilty plea Jan. 6, 2011.
In court documents, Jones argues his then-attorney, David S. Keller, was ineffective in several ways. Among his claims are that Keller did not advise him of the newly created Castle Doctrine, that Keller said a jury would see photos of his lifeless wife, and that Keller said prosecutors may use evidence of alleged marital discord.
Meyers wrote in his opinion that Jones failed to offer evidence at a Post-Conviction Relief Act (PCRA) hearing on several points. He also said the Castle Doctrine, which changed the state’s rules about deadly force, became effective in August 2011 and did not have provisions for retroactive applicability for offenses committed prior to the effective date.
Meyers said the possibility of a jury seeing photos, none of which were provided at the PCRA hearing, was not unreasonable, plus the possible admission of evidence about marital discord would be discretionary.
In the opinion, Meyers referenced transcripts of Jones making his plea in open court. He also said the defendant had a second opinion from a lawyer before that plea.
— Jennifer Fitch
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