Staton’s attorney dismissed

The defense attorney who was punched by death row inmate Andre Staton two weeks ago will no longer be required to represent him, according to an order issued by Blair County Judge Elizabeth Doyle.

The judge has notified the 50-year-old Staton, who is being housed at the State Correctional Institution at Greene, that the appointment of Timothy Burns of Ebensburg has been vacated.

This came after Pennsylvania State Police from Hollidaysburg filed several aggravated assault charges against Staton, including aggravated assault of his attorney, which carries with it a possible life sentence.

Doyle also has notified Staton that she intends to dismiss all of his post trial motions that contended his attorneys were ineffective, a step that could lead to the lifting of the stay on the imposition of the death penalty.

Staton was irate two weeks ago when the judge refused to dismiss Burns as his attorney and allow him to proceed as his own lawyer.

Burns said he opposed Staton’s request to move ahead with his appeals on his own.

As the hearing came to an end, Staton stood up and then slammed his cuffed and belted hands and wrists into Burns’ face.

The attorney, who is more than 6 feet tall and 200 pounds, stated late last week he has been diagnosed with the most severe type of concussion.

He stated he has been advised to rest and possibly be away from his office for at least a month.

Staton had filed a petition on his own listing 14 issues or reasons why he should be granted a new trial.

With his court-appointed attorney no longer able to represent him, Doyle made the decision to review Staton’s post conviction hearing petition.

She reasoned that Staton understands the proceedings against him and his post trial rights.

The judge referred to a recent mental health evaluation of Staton by Dr. Joseph L. Antonowicz, the medical director of the Behavioral Health Unit at Altoona Regional Health System finding Staton competent.

The judge then delved into the issues Staton raised and dismissed them.