Convicted arsonist pursuing appeals

Rodland to remain incarcerated, retains attorney

HOLLIDAYSBURG — A convicted arsonist will remain incarcerated while pursuing appeals before the state Superior Court with assistance of a court-appointed attorney.

Blair County Judge Jolene G. Kopriva on Monday recognized Christopher M. Rodland’s decision to retain attorney Matthew Dombrosky instead of representing himself.

The state Superior Court, in a late November order, instructed Kopriva to conduct a hearing on Rodland’s desire — or not — for self-representation and on Rodland’s desire to supplement the county court’s record for pursuit of his appeals.

Kopriva advised Dom-brosky and District Attorney Richard Consiglio that a hearing could be scheduled Dec. 18 to supplement the record if potential witnesses are available for testimony. Consiglio said he would contact three witnesses about their availability.

The state Superior Court, in a Nov. 21 order, directed the county court to complete the proceedings and forward the appropriate records that will be considered during Rodland’s appeals.

Rodland has raised multiple issues linked to his 1999 incarceration and subsequent conviction on arson and arson-related charges during two jury trials. Rodland also entered guilty pleas to arson charges filed in additional cases.

While the 40-year-old Rodland was initially sentenced to spend 25 years and four months to 76 years in prison, a three- to six-year portion of the original sentence was later vacated based on one dismissed count of arson. At a court hearing in September, Rodland advised that his earliest release date is Oct. 4, 2021.

Rodland also asked at that court hearing for bail pending appeal, a request that Kopriva initially granted after Rodland described efforts he has made in prison to become a better person and offered a 2015 psychiatric report with a “no risk” assessment.

But Consiglio secured a stay order from the state Superior Court to keep Rodland from being released pending further review. Kopriva subsequently notified the state court in further review of case law, she concluded that she lacked jurisdiction to consider Rodland’s request for bail pending appeal since his appeal had already been filed.

Kopriva came to the same conclusion on Rodland’s request for permission to supplement the county record for his pending appeals. But the Superior Court, in its Nov. 21 order, directed Kopriva to consider that request and advise the state court of any forthcoming records.

Rodland remains incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Benner Township, Centre County.

He participated in Monday’s hearing by phone and is scheduled to be transported to Blair County for the Dec. 18 hearing.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.