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NEW CASTLE 3 lawyers join team to defend Kimbell



Published: Thu, May 31, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Thomas Kimbell's retrial is tentatively set for August.

By LAURE CIOFFI

VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU

NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Thomas Kimbell is adding three new attorneys to his defense team.

Paul Titus, Perry Delay and Michael Kalata of the Pittsburgh law firm Schnader, Harrison, Segal & amp; Lewis informed Lawrence County Common Pleas Court officials they will assist local lawyer Thomas Leslie in Kimbell's retrial.

Kimbell, 39, of Pulaski Township, is accused in the 1996 stabbing deaths of his neighbor Bonnie Lou Dryfuse, 34; her daughters, Jaqueline, 7, and Heather, 4; and her niece, Stephanie Herko, 5.

His three new attorneys plan to work for freein Kimbell's upcoming trial.

The trial is tentatively set for August.

"It's important that there be representation in these kind of cases. Tom [Leslie] has done a superb job, but in most of the cases I work on there are two or three people on the trial team. One may think of something that the other doesn't," Titus said.

Titus was contacted last year by the federal public defender's office in Philadelphia when Kimbell appealed his 1998 conviction.

As it stands: Lawrence County jurors sentenced Kimbell to death in the child murders and life in prison for Dryfuse's death.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted Kimbell a new trial in October when they decided Leslie was not able to question a witness about changes in her story.

If that appeal had been unsuccessful, Titus said he had been asked to handle any future appeals in local and federal court.

His law firm generally takes a few cases each year the public defender's office can't handle.

Although he primarily works in corporate law, Titus said he does have experience in criminal defense work.

He has been an attorney since 1960.

Kalata, who is a Shenango Township, Lawrence County, native, and Delay are recent law school graduates interested in getting experience in criminal law, Titus added.

Leslie said any legal help in the retrial will be welcome. His wife, who is not an attorney, assisted him the first trial, he said.

"During the trial, you have to have somebody else there. The police report is 1,600 pages, and there are 18 thick notebooks of information. Just keeping track of all that is difficult," he added.

cioffi@vindy.com




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