Killer asks judge for lighter jail sentence

A Hollidaysburg-area man who is serving a long jail term for killing his grandfather nearly nine years ago is asking Blair County Judge Timothy M. Sullivan to cut his sentence in half.

The judge said Thursday that he has appointed an attorney for Thomas Scott Drass, 32, who is serving 20 to 40 years at the State Correctional Institution at Rockview.

Hollidaysburg attorney Paul M. Puskar has been appointed to take over Drass’ case.

Sullivan gave Puskar 60 days to amend the petition Drass submitted by mail to the judge.

The judge said he will communicate with Puskar and District Attorney Richard A. Consiglio concerning Drass’ petition.

Drass was arrested in January 2005 after using a newly purchased rifle to kill his grandfather, Dwayne Chamberlain, who was at his Frankstown Township home with his wife, Kathryn.

Sullivan approved an agreement under which Drass pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and was sentenced to a prison term of 20 to 40 years.

Three years after being sentenced, Drass filed a petition asking that he be allowed to withdraw his plea, but Sullivan refused the request.

Drass has now requested that his jail term be reduced to 10 to 20 years, stating that the judge did not take into consideration many factors when considering the sentence.

The judge said Drass’ request is, in reality, a second petition under the state’s Post Conviction Hearing Act.

Drass said that he has a cyst on the brain, a condition that was not considered during his sentencing. He also claimed he has mental health issues and was under the influence of drugs when the incident occurred.

In addition, he had no prior criminal record, Drass wrote.

He wants the judge to resentence him, taking these new issues into consideration.

Drass attached a letter from his grandmother – the victim’s wife – to his request for an additional hearing.

In the May 23, 2013, letter she wrote that she witnessed the Jan. 3, 2005, shooting.

Her husband was sitting in a recliner in the living room of their home. Drass came to the home, she wrote, to show his grandfather a new rifle he just purchased.

She told Drass to lower the weapon, this occurring as Chamberlain stood up.

The gun suddenly discharged, killing Chamberlain.

The shooting caused Drass to be “all worked up,” the letter stated, and he left the house, only to return at a later time, at which point he was arrested by state police.

Drass’ trial attorney, Theodore Krol, said the shooting was accidental and that Drass went to his grandparents home only to show them his rifle.

Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.