Copley trial jury seated

City man accused of killing his wife, Catherine, who went missing in 2015


HOLLIDAYSBURG — A jury has been seated to hear homicide, aggravated assault and related charges filed against an Altoona man accused of killing his wife, whose decomposed body was found about five years ago in a garage behind a vacant city house.

Michael D. Copley, 33, is scheduled for a five-day trial starting Monday at the Blair County Courthouse on charges associated with the death of 29-year-old Catherine Copley of Altoona.

Her body was found in June 2016, about six months after she was reported missing in December 2015.

Michael D. Copley was arrested and charged in October 2018, following an Altoona police investigation.

Judge Wade A. Kagarise, who presided over jury selection, acknowledged to the 200-plus potential jurors that they were being considered for a case with charges that drew media attention and continues to draw media attention.

Copley is accused of killing his wife in the hours after she left their home on the 300 block of Seventh Avenue to buy a bag of marijuana. In criminal charges, police accuse him of hiding her body and lying to investigators.

District Attorney Pete Weeks told potential jurors that a forensic pathologist is going to testify that he couldn’t identify how Catherine Copley died because of the decomposed condition of her body.

“But he did conclude that it was a homicide,” Weeks said.

Rather than asking jurors if they had read about the case or seen televised reports, Kagarise asked potential jurors if they had reached “some fixed opinion” based on what they read or saw. Three jurors were dismissed after speaking to the judge and attorneys about their answers.

Weeks also offered the jurors a lengthy list of potential witnesses who may or may not testify at trial. Some jurors reported knowing police officers but said that wouldn’t keep them from being fair and impartial.

The jury selection process does not require defense attorney Richard Corcoran to read a list of potential witnesses to jurors. Corcoran also doesn’t have to advise the jury if his client will testify in his own defense, a decision that usually remains on hold until after the prosecution rests.

Michael Copley was in court for the jury selection, seated beside Corcoran.

Of the potential jurors summoned to court on Tuesday, many were dismissed based on their answers to a variety of questions asked.

About 60 potential jurors remained under consideration as the selection process — which included no lunch break — moved into its final selection phase shortly before 6 p.m. When the last potential juror was deemed eligible — rather than dismissed — from the jury pool — the jurors started applauding. That prompted Kagarise to smile and acknowledge that the process was nearing an end.

The selected panel includes 12 jurors and four alternates.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 814-946-7456.


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