Judge vacates death sentence, but leaves conviction in place

MEADVILLE, Pa. (AP) -- A Cincinnati man who has been on Pennsylvania's death row since his 1986 conviction for the murder of an 84-year-old Crawford County man won't get a new trial, but he will get his sentence reviewed.
Crawford County President Judge Gordon R. Miller vacated Roger Proctor's death sentence for stabbing Gerald Gase during a robbery in Meadville in October 1985. Proctor was 33 at the time.
Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge signed a death warrant for Proctor in April 2000. But that warrant was later stayed and a new appeal filed after Proctor's attorneys said they had new evidence that could help him.
Miller said that because Proctor confessed killing Gase, the new evidence didn't warrant a new trial. But the judge said some of the evidence might have been used to persuade a jury to sentence Proctor to life in prison without parole.
Proctor's attorneys said a knife was found outside Gase's residence. Police said Gase was stabbed 57 times with a pair of scissors and that the killing warranted the death penalty.
Proctor confessed, but denied stabbing Gase that many times.
Proctor's attorneys said it could be argued that someone else inflicted many of the wounds with the knife.

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