In the News

New trial sought in killing

Kathy Mellott For the Tribune Democrat
March 9, 2011

HOLLIDAYSBURG — A Blair County man convicted four years ago of the brutal stabbing death of a 6-year-old boy was in court arguing that he should be given a new trial.

Nathan Shaw contends the attorney who argued that he earlier had ineffective counsel during his trial was from the same law agency as his defense team.

The lawyers in the trial and the appeals process were through the Blair County Public Defender’s office.

Shaw, 32, of Tyrone was convicted in January 2007 of the late 2005 stabbing death of Jared Klein, the son of his then-estranged girlfriend.

Police say the boy died the day after Christmas 2005, after Shaw went into his mother’s home, raped her and stabbed the boy when he tried to defend her.

The stabbing occurred after Shaw beat and attempted to strangle Jared.

During his trial, Shaw testified he was running down the hallway carrying a kitchen knife when he accidently collided with Jared and the knife plunged into the boys neck.

A jury convicted him of first degree murder, but Blair County District Attorney Richard Consiglio argued unsuccessfully that Shaw should be put to death for the crime. Instead, he was sentenced in spring 2007 to life in prison without the chance of parole.

Shaw has been fighting for a new trial since mid-2007.

His claim of ineffective counsel and other trial errors was dismissed by the state Superior Court in 2008.

“The Superior Court already ruled this defendant’s counsel was effective, we shouldn’t even be here,” Consiglio said.

But Judge Daniel Milliron said attention must be paid to the argument by current defense attorney Tim Burns of Ebensburg that the attorney handling the post-sentence appeal did not argue the case as vigorously as needed because he was from the public defender’s office.

He said he recalls hearing concerns that one member of a law office won’t zealously argue ineffective council of a partner, that includes the relationship in the public defender’s office, he said.

He termed the issue “layering.”

Milliron refused to hear arguments about the defense offered by attorneys John Sifford and Ted Krol. But the ineffective counsel argument offered to the Superior Court by Andrew Murray, who was also in the public defender’s office, is “open game,” Milliron said.

The appeal to the higher court touched on change of venue and sufficiency of evidence, with the appeal counsel using only 60 words to argue the matter.

“He is entitled to more effective, competent counsel,” Burns said. “I believe quite frankly the ball was dropped for my client after the conviction.”

The appeal was handled as it was because there were no suitable issues available for appeal, Consiglio argued.

“There were no errors, no reason for appeal,” he said.

Over objections by Burns, Consiglio said the defense went so far as to attempt to find an expert to support Shaw’s rendition of the killing, but was unsuccessful.

An Erie pathologist in a report to Krol said he could find nothing in the evidence to help the defendant.

“He’s basically saying if we go to court, he will convict this guy, rather than help him,” Consiglio said.

Milliron denied a motion that he recuse himself from the appeal because of any prejudice he has against Shaw.

“There’s nobody in a better position to rule of (this appeal). It was a massive trial, a massive undertaking,” he said.

While his opinion of Shaw is not a good one, if he finds he has to determine the credibility of the defendant, he will shift the task to another judge, he said.

Milliron gave Burns and Consiglio 30 days to file memorandums with attention paid to the courts concern about layering.