Five years ago this weekend, illegal immigrant Miguel Padilla of Gallitzin shot and killed three Altoona men outside the UVA Club, after two of them refused to let him into the members-only bar.
It's still the only triple murder in Blair County history, as far as District Attorney Rich Consiglio, who prosecuted the case and won a death penalty conviction against Padilla, knows.
Seven shots from Padilla's handgun killed club owner Al Mignogna, 61, a former Altoona Area High School math teacher; doorman Fred Rickabaugh Sr., 58; and club patron Stephen Heiss, 28, a guard at the State Correctional Institution at Huntingdon - who reportedly pushed his girlfriend to safety as the bullets flew.
Mirror photo illustration by Patrick Waksmunski and Tom Worthington II
A.J.?Thompson, 9, prints a message to his late grandfather, Al Mignogna, on a balloon to be released today.
It galvanized the community, bringing Pennsylvania for a while into the illegal immigrant discussion, causing some people in this area to wonder why Immigration and Customs Enforcement did not previously deport Padilla for earlier transgressions it knew about.
His criminal history included stabbing his former father-in-law and beating his girlfriend.
Padilla came to America from Mexico with his mother and brothers in 1989 to escape an abusive father.
The Mexican consulate in Philadelphia sent a representative to observe proceedings, and the Mexican government attempted unsuccessfully to intervene at trial.
Though a Cumberland County jury tried the case in 2006, it's still under appeal before the state Supreme Court. The defense's initial appeal argued Judge Hiram Carpenter gave improper instructions to the jury when he said it couldn't reduce the murder charge to third-degree because there was no evidence of an overwhelming impact on Padilla's judgment by alcohol or drugs.