PA Won’t Clear Innocent Defendants If Evidence Doesn’t Come in 60 Days


The murders in the tiny town of Muncy, Pa., on Aug. 6, 1976, were horrific: a mother, her little girl, and her toddler son shot to death in what appeared to be a home break-in gone tragically bad. For more than seven months, says the Philadelphia Inquirer, troopers investigating the case seemed stumped until a 14-year-old girl confided to two friends that a drug dealer named Colin Brown had told her he knew who the killers were. In 1977, three men were convicted based primarily on the testimony of Brown and two other men with extensive histories of drug abuse and crime.

Now, more than 33 years later, all three of those prosecution witnesses have said under oath that they lied when they accused one defendant – Milton Scarborough, a town handyman and sawmill worker – of taking part in the murders. A Pennsylvania law requires that new evidence of factual innocence other than DNA must be presented to a court within 60 days of discovery. That law – one of the nation’s most stringent – has led courts to deny Scarborough’s appeals.

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