Man found guilty of child-sex charges receives new trial

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A man who faced an extensive prison sentence after being found guilty of child-sex charges five years ago was recently awarded a new trial.

Terry Garlock, now 50, faced between 22 1/2 to 45 years in prison following a 2012 guilty verdict of attempted involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault and indecent assault. He was also to be labeled as a sexually violent predator.

The charges stemmed from two incidents in which Garlock allegedly touched the female child’s breasts and genitals, court documents say.

According to court documents, the victim told her half-sister about the incidents in 2009, approximately five years after the fact. Following that, Garlock spoke with police — once in December 2009 and another time in February 2010. He told law enforcement that he met the victim’s mother online in April 2004 and moved in with her shortly after. The criminal complaint provided the time of the sexual assault as having occurred between February 2003 and February 2005, documents add.

However, in September 2010, the commonwealth filed a bill of information, charging Garlock with the crimes above but alleging that they took place between February 2003 and February 2004. This change was made after the prosecutor met with the victim.

The commonwealth then presented its case during trial. Court documents show the prosecution did not have anyone testify to the specific time that Garlock lived with the family.

Prior to the defense’s presentation, Garlock’s counsel revealed that he intended to present evidence that his client was deployed from the local area — in Georgia, United States, and Europe — for the entire time covered by the bill of information, February 2003 to February 2004, documents say. In light of the alibi revelation, the prosecution attempted to change the bill of information again, this time including the time frame from February 2004 and February 2005. The defense did not object. Trial played out — he was found guilty and sentenced.

In June 2015, while incarcerated, Garlock filed a Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA) petition, raising various claims of ineffective assistance of the defense attorney who represented him. He laid out three allegations: failing to make a notion for judgment of acquittal, failing to provide a notice of alibi and allowing the commonwealth to amend criminal information to include additional year in which they alleged crimes could have occurred, court documents state.

The PCRA hearing took place in January 2016. According to documents, the defense attorney testified that the general approach to attack the commonwealth’s case was to highlight inconsistencies in the case, rather than an alibi defense. The trial counsel believed the lengthier the period the time charged by the commonwealth, the less credible the allegations became, documents state. Though, the attorney was aware Garlock was out of the area during the time the alleged acts occurred — he also agreed that the an alibi strategy “would have been an even larger knock to their [commonwealth] credibility,” especially if the commonwealth would have changed their story in response the alibi.

Garlock’s claims were denied and he entered an appeal in August 2016.

The Superior Court of Pennsylvania went through the PCRA hearing as well as the facts of the case and concluded that the Court of Common Pleas of Franklin County was mistaken in finding that the defense was effective. According to court documents, the Superior Court states that “if Garlock had provided a timely notice of his alibi to the commonwealth, the commonwealth either would have been forced to amend the bill [regarding the change of years] prior to trial or would have seen the case fail upon the showing that Garlock was out of the jurisdiction during the time frame” of the alleged sexual assault incidents.

The court reversed the order, vacated the sentence and now, a new trial awaits.