Pennsylvania Superior Court denies Steven Colegrove's appeal of murder conviction
The Pennsylvania Superior Court has refused to overturn the 2009 conviction on murder charges of Steven Carl Colegrove of Deposit, N.Y., Bradford County officials said Wednesday.
The Pennsylvania Superior Court handed down its decision on Friday.
"The Superior Court of Pennsylvania denied the appeal of Steven Colegrove" in a decision handed down on Friday, said Bradford County District Attorney Daniel Barrett.
Colegrove, 34, was convicted in January 2009 of murdering his parents and one of his brothers, Michael, at their home in Tuscarora Township.
In filing the appeal, Steven Colegrove had asked the Pennsylvania Superior Court to overturn his conviction and to be granted a new trial, said Bradford County Public Defender Helen Stolinas.
On Jan. 27, 2009, a jury found Steven Colegrove guilty of three counts each of first- and third-degree murder in the deaths of his parents and his brother.
Colegrove was sentenced on Feb. 26, 2009 to three sentences of life without parole.
Bradford County Common Pleas Court Judge Maureen Beirne conducted the trial and imposed the sentences.
On Wednesday, District Attorney Barrett issued the following written statement which explained Colegrove's appeal and how it was handled by the Pennsylvania Superior Court:
"Colegrove raised eight claims on appeal, asserting that the trial court had erred in rulings made before, during, and after the trial.
"Colegrove's two claims that the evidence was not sufficient were denied. The Superior Court held that there was ample evidence from which the jury could have found the defendant guilty.
"Colegrove also raised three claims that the trial court improperly admitted or denied evidence. The Superior Court denied the claims, adopting the rulings and reasoning reported by Judge Beirne in her rulings on post-sentence motions.
"The Superior Court also denied Colegrove's claims (1) that the trial should have been held in a different county (2) that a request for a particular instruction to the jury was denied.
"The Superior Court held that Colegrove's claim about a pre-trial suppression motion ruling failed to show any harm from the ruling. Colegrove claimed that he made a request for an attorney and that State Trooper Mike Golay returned a few minutes later and asked him more questions. The Commonwealth contended that Colegrove did not ask for a lawyer, but had only indicated that he might decide to ask for one.
"In response to Golay's questions, Colegrove continued to deny guilt. He admitted that he'd discarded some clothing the day after his parents were killed, but said that he hadn't worn those clothes recently and hadn't known of his parents' death at that time.
"The Superior Court did not reach the issue of whether Colegrove had asked for an attorney, because the appeal did not establish that the evidence harmed Colegrove's defense. The court held that the other evidence of guilt was comparatively overwhelming. The weight and value of the disclosures to Trooper Golay were not significant, particularly since a witness testified that he'd seen Colegrove take loaded garbage to the disposal area the morning after the murders had occurred.
"Superior Court judges Michael Musmano, Judy Olson, and Anne Lazarus heard and decided the case.
"Judge Lazarus wrote a concurring opinion. While she agreed that the statements to Trooper Golay were harmless, she concluded that Colegrove had made a request for a lawyer, and that Golay should not have asked Colegrove if he wished to speak to Golay," Barrett wrote.
Stolinas said she will now appeal Colegrove's case to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
At Colegrove's murder trial in the Bradford County Court of Common Pleas in January 2009, the Commonwealth called 65 witnesses.
"The evidence against Steven Colegrove included the murder weapon, (which was) located at his home in Deposit, N.Y., his evasive statements to investigators, his promises to friends that he would soon be receiving substantial funds, and a shotgun recoil bruise on his shoulder," Barrett wrote.
In addition, "empty casings at the scene were shown to have been fired in the shotgun and DNA testing found Michael Colegrove's blood on the shotgun," Barrett wrote.
"After the jury reported it could not agree on the death penalty, Judge Beirne sentenced Colegrove to three consecutive life sentences. There is no possibility of parole from a life sentence in Pennsylvania," Barrett wrote.
James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.