The Nicholas Horner double-homicide trial has experienced delays, and it may end up being three years after two local residents were killed on April 6, 2009, before a jury hears the case.
The latest delay was caused when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court stopped jury selection while Horner's lawyers sought permission to use an insanity defense. Last week, the high court cleared the way for the case to proceed.
Lead defense attorney Thomas M. Dickey said the Supreme Court did not find that Blair County President Judge Jolene G. Kopriva's opinion denying an insanity defense was correct but only decided to put off consideration until a post-trial appeal if Horner, an Iraq War veteran who reportedly suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, is convicted.
With that hurdle out of the way, Dickey told Mirror Reporter Phil Ray, "Game on."
We found that comment to be extremely insensitive.
While we understand that trying a criminal case is challenging and that lawyers are competitive, we don't appreciate associating a murder trial with a game.
Horner is charged with the shooting deaths of Scott Garlick, 19, and Raymond Williams, 64, and the wounding of Michele Petty during a robbery of the 58th Street Subway restaurant in Altoona and subsequent getaway. The prosecution is seeking the death penalty.
The pursuit of justice for one of the worst crimes in Blair County history, to us, is anything but a game.
Thumbs-down to Dickey on a poor choice of words.
Others worthy of thumbs-up, thumbs-down mention:
Thumbs-up to Zeigler Chevrolet in Claysburg and everyone associated with an effort to obtain a car for a nursing student at Mount Aloysius College, whose vehicle was stolen and damaged beyond repair in November. After a story about Cortni Lynn McClain's plight was published in the Mirror, area residents began an effort to obtain a car for McClain so she could travel to Windber for practical training. Zeigler provided a used car at half price, and the fundraisers were able to collect about $4,800 so McClain again has transportation.
Thumbs-up to Tussey Mountain boys basketball coach Dave Bailey, who recently surpassed the 700-victory plateau. Bailey is the winningest boys basketball coach in central Pennsylvania history and among just a handful of coaches, boys or girls, with 700 wins. He is also a legend to any of the players he coached and to all who have watched his teams compete.
Thumbs-up to Linzi Biesinger, owner of the Altoona Beauty School who was honored as the Small Business Person of the Year by the Blair County Chamber of Commerce last week. Other honorees included Booker Moore, recipient of the first Donna D. Gority Servant Leadership Award; Robert A. Good, winner of the annual George Award for volunteerism; Derek Miller (GRYP Impact) Award; Deb Dellaposta of WPS (Athena Award, which recognizes women for professional accomplishment); Sherri Stayer of Altoona Lung Specialists (Joseph P. Rosenhamer Chamber Spirit Award); Hayes Large Architects of Altoona (Loyalty Award for 65 years of continuous chamber membership) and James Crawford (Agricultural Community Excellence).