Life Imprisonment Affirmed by Superior Court of Pennsylvania

Lucas Allen NewnamLucas Allen Newnam (Submitted Image)

LANCASTER, PA — A Christiana man previously convicted of killing 26-year-old Julius Dale III in 2016 recently had his post-conviction (PCRA) petition denial affirmed by the Superior Court of Pennsylvania.

Lucas Allen Newnam, 37, was found guilty by jury of criminal homicide on August 4, 2017, and sentenced to life imprisonment five days later.

Newnam attempted to get a retrial in 2019, arguing prison visit conversations with his mother shouldn’t have been allowed at trial, his statement to police should not have been presented to the jury, a Castle Doctrine instruction should have been read to jury before deliberations, and that he should’ve been allowed to change his attorney 10 days before trial. A Pennsylvania appellate court denied these claims.

Newnam’s most recent appeal was entered in the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas on June 8, 2021, which was denied by Lancaster County Judge Donald Totaro. A memorandum filed by Pennsylvania Superior Court Judge Deborah A. Kunselman found Newnam’s most recent claims to lack merit and affirmed Judge Totaro’s denial.

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Newnam’s claims included he was entitled to relief based on ineffective assistance of counsel for the counsel’s failure to:

  • furnish the Commonwealth with prior written statements of two defense witnesses.
  • elicit at trial from the two defense witnesses that they had provided a private investigator with written statements.

Newnam argued he was prejudiced because the Commonwealth was able to portray during trial the two witnesses as not credible because their accounts were recently fabricated. The PCRA court ruled that the Commonwealth did not challenge the witnesses’ credibility on the basis that their stories were recently fabricated, but rather questioned the witnesses on their failure to provide this information to law enforcement prior to trial.

Judge Kunselman further noted in her memorandum that the witnesses gave their statements to a private investigator hired by Newnam six months after the shooting, giving them the opportunity to align their accounts with Newnam’s self-defense claim. They would’ve been subject to the same line of cross examination even if defense provided the statements to the prosecution.

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The PCRA court summarized the testimony of the six Commonwealth witnesses who were at the residence the day of the murder, Newnam’s interview with police after his arrest, the evidence presented by the defense, Newnam’s testimony, and the testimony of the five defense witnesses called to corroborate Newnam’s claim of self-defense.

At sentencing, Lancaster County Judge Donald Totaro called the killing “premeditated” and “intentional,” and said Newnam lied to the jury when he testified.

First Deputy District Attorney Travis Anderson won the conviction at trial and is representing the Commonwealth in post-conviction litigation.

Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Michael Snyder filed charges.

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