HOLLIDAYSBURG - Paul Aaron Ross, who faces the death penalty in the killing of a 26-year-old Hollidaysburg woman nearly a decade ago, will go on trial in October, Blair County President Judge Jolene G. Kopriva has ordered.
The judge met with prosecution and defense attorneys earlier in the week to discuss the issues that had to be resolved before Ross can be bought before a jury.
The appointment of a death penalty counsel for Ross, 41, is one of those issues.
Ross, charged with killing Tina S. Miller, is being represented by Altoona attorney Thomas M. Dickey.
But in death penalty cases, a second attorney must be appointed to prepare a defense just for the death penalty phase of the case that will occur only if a jury finds Ross guilty of first-degree murder.
Kopriva said a death penalty counsel will be named within two weeks.
Dickey has been given 60 days to file his pretrial motions.
He also will be required to provide the names of expert witnesses he intends to use during the trial by June 17.
Kopriva ordered Dickey to maintain a journal of dates and times that he has conferred with the expert witnesses in an effort to avoid any trial delays.
She also wants expert reports filed by July 18.
Kopriva stated that jury selection will begin on Oct. 7 with the trial to follow during the weeks of Oct. 13 and Oct. 20.
The prosecution team includes District Attorney Richard A. Consiglio and Assistant District Attorney Deanne Paul.
Ross is being housed at the State Correctional Institution at Mahanoy, Schuylkill County, where he was placed in 2005 after he was tried for the killing.
During the 2005 trial, testimony revealed that Miller met Ross at a tavern in Hollidaysburg on June 25, 2004, and then attended an after-hours party at a home where Ross was present.
According to the prosecution, friends dropped off Miller and Ross at Canoe Creek State Park during the early morning of June 26.
Ross lived near the state park.
Miller's body was found the next day partially submerged in the lake.
Ross claimed he and Miller separated after they were dropped off at Canoe Creek.
He was sentenced to life plus 24 to 48 years, but in 2011 the Pennsylvania Superior Court ordered a retrial, upholding complaints by Dickey that he didn't have time to properly prepare a defense for Ross and that the jury was prejudiced by the presentation of three former Ross girlfriends who talked about his actions toward woman.
The jury could not decide if Ross should face death or be incarcerated for life. That meant the judge had to impose a life sentence.
The new trial order was followed by two years of further appeals by Consiglio and Paul attempting to get the Superior and Supreme courts to reconsider.
Soon after the final order for a retrial, Consiglio filed notice that the death penalty is back on the table.
Dickey has already stated he believes an out-of-county jury should be selected for the retrial.
Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.