Copley homicide trial set for March

City man accused of killing his wife in December 2015

HOLLIDAYSBURG — An Altoona man accused of killing his 29-year-old wife in December 2015 — her decomposed body was found seven months later in the garage of an abandoned house — is slated for a jury trial in March.

Blair County Judge Wade Kagarise, in court Friday, announced the target date for the trial of 31-year-old Michael D. Copley. He was arrested in October and charged with criminal homicide and related offenses in the death of Catherine Copley.

Kagarise also authorized Michael Copley’s request for up to $3,500 to have Dr. Eric Vey, a forensic pathologist, review Catherine Copley’s medical records and autopsy report. In addition, the judge approved Copley’s request for $1,000 to hire Tom Beiser of Easton to examine cellphone and computer-related evidence associated with the criminal charges.

Cellphone records allegedly show that Michael Copley was in the area of the garage behind the abandoned house at 408 E. Pleasant Valley Blvd., on the night his wife went missing. But those records, based on technology linked to pinpointing locations, could come into question in preparation for trial.

Defense attorney Richard Corcoran has already filed a suppression motion, asking the judge to bar that evidence from trial unless prosecutors can verify its reliability and accuracy.

First Assistant District Attorney Pete Weeks said Friday that he will have an expert witness in GPS technology identified by late September.

Corcoran, in documents filed with the court, has also asked prosecutors to provide more specifics about how Catherine Copley died and what his client is alleged to have done that would have caused her death. The judge advised attorneys that he will be reviewing Michael Copley’s preliminary hearing transcript to answer a habeaus corpus motion claiming the evidence isn’t sufficient to support the charges.

The defense has 14 days to put its questions and claims in writing, Kagarise said, then the prosecution will have 14 days to offer a response.

Kagarise also advised both Weeks and Corcoran to advise potential witnesses of plans for a March trial and for them to identify availability issues.

Michael Copley, who remains incarcerated at the Blair County Prison without bail, attended Friday’s court proceedings where he spoke only with his attorney. Corcoran advised the judge that in support of a request for fees to hire Vey and Beiser, Copley could testify as to his indigence. Kagarise said the testimony wasn’t necessary.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.