LANCASTER, PA — A Quarryville woman was convicted Tuesday of first-degree murder after a five-day bench trial before Lancaster County Judge Merrill Spahn, announced the Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams.
The trial originally started on December 7 and went until December 12 but was postponed until Tuesday due to a scheduling issue with a defense witness.
Danielle Bewley, 30 of the 100 block of Locust Lane, shot and killed Mitchell Bewley after luring him to a PNC Bank in Strasburg around 5:30 p.m. on Valentine’s Day in 2021. The victim was shot five times in the torso.
Assistant District Attorney Christine Wilson prosecuted the case and presented evidence that the killing was premeditated while the defense argued the shooting was in self-defense.
“On Valentine’s Day of 2021, the defendant executed a plan and then executed the victim,” Wilson said. “She had it all planned out. It was specific premeditation. She was lying in wait for the victim to get there.”
Further evidence and testimony presented by Wilson throughout the trial included:
- Witnesses at the PNC Bank heard one gunshot and then a rapid succession of gunfire.
- The Lancaster County Coroner who conducted the victim’s autopsy testified all five shots could have been fatal to the victim.
- Testimony from the defendant’s friend and Ring camera video evidence revealed the defendant went to the friend’s house to pick up her firearm.
- Wilson also argued the defendant’s claim that she was scared was inaccurate since she never stopped at a police station or stayed at her friend’s rather than going to meet with the victim.
- Testimony that the defendant made previous threats to kill the victim.
- Evidence of a FaceTime call between the defendant and her friend with the defendant showing a gun moments before the shooting.
- Evidence of multiple calls from the defendant to friends and family saying she had shot the victim, including that “He got what he deserved.”
“She could not reasonably believe she was in threat of serious bodily injury or death when she lured [the victim] to the PNC Bank to kill him,” Wilson said. “There’s no mistaken belief that her life was in danger. It’s premeditated, first-degree murder.”
Wilson also stated the defendant could have safely retreated from the situation by driving away; the inability to safely retreat is needed for a self-defense claim.
Defense asked for a third-degree murder or manslaughter verdict arguing the defendant’s mental health and prior victimization made her reasonably believe she was in fear of danger.
Judge Spahn returned the guilty verdict at about 4:45 p.m. Tuesday. Sentencing will occur at a later date.
Assistant District Attorney Jessica Collo assisted in the prosecution. Strasburg Borough Police Officer Bradley Klunk filed charges, testified, and attended the entirety of the trial.
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