HOLLIDAYSBURG - Attorneys in the Nicholas A. Horner homicide case met late Tuesday with Blair County President Judge Jolene G. Kopriva to discuss how his appeal to first-degree murder convictions will be handled over the next few weeks.
Horner's attorney, Thomas M. Dickey, said the thrust of his appeal will center on the judge's pretrial decision not to allow an insanity defense.
An Army veteran who served three tours of duty in Iraq, Horner used a defense that he suffered from "substance-induced delirium" when he robbed Subway on 58th Street in 2009, killed employee Scott Garlick, 19, of Hollidaysburg and wounded employee Michele Petty.
Horner was also found guilty of killing another man, Raymond Williams, 64, during his getaway attempt.
When Kopriva rejected Dickey's insanity defense, he took the issue to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Justice Seamus McCaffery favored a hearing to review Kopriva's decision, noting that many veterans are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. He concluded that veterans who get into trouble with the law may be turning more and more to a defense based on "mental infirmities related to his or her military service."
The Supreme Court as a whole, however, refused to overturn Kopriva's ruling and Horner, 32, was not able to use the insanity defense. He was convicted on two counts of first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison.
In meeting with the defense and Deputy District Attorneys Wade Kagarise and Jackie Bernard, the judge asked Dickey to determine whether Horner, who is incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill, wants to attend the post-trial argument.
The attorneys also decided they will present legal arguments during the hearing and then file briefs for Kopriva to study before making her decision.
No date has been set for Horner's argument.
Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.