June 01, 2015

Project Seeks Counsel for Pennsylvania Prisoner with Possible Innocence Claim

The Project is urgently seeking volunteer counsel to represent a Pennsylvania death row prisoner “KM” in his state post-conviction proceedings. KM was convicted and sentenced to death for killing a man during the commission of a burglary and robbery, during which he was alleged to have taken a purse, cell phone, and bag of marijuana. At trial, the State relied heavily on the testimony of a woman who claimed to have witnessed KM shooting the victim. Immediately before the shooting, this woman, who was having an affair with the victim, was involved in a verbal altercation with the victim and his girlfriend. KM was present only at the request of a mutual friend who had asked him to give the girlfriend a ride. He was not involved in the altercation and had no prior relationship with any of the three. No physical evidence connected KM to the shooting, nor did the police recover the items that he allegedly stole.

In addition to factual questions about the offense, there are a number of other viable claims that could be raised in a petition for post-conviction relief. KM’s appointed state post-conviction counsel, however, withdrew from representation due to a conflict of interest the day before his petition was due to be filed. The federal statute of limitations has been tolled, and local counsel is hopeful that the state court would provide additional time to prepare and file a petition if new counsel is located. Volunteer counsel will have strong strategic support from the federal defender’s office, which has already been appointed to represent KM in his federal habeas proceedings. For more information about this case and others in need of assistance, please contact the Project at (202) 662-1738 or deathpenaltyproject@americanbar.org.