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Lancaster man’s appeal of life sentence for stabbing his wife to death denied by state court

LANCASTER — A Lancaster man’s request for relief from a life sentence for stabbing his wife to death in 2015 was denied by a state appellate court, according to the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office.

Carrington Joseph, 31, was convicted of first-degree murder for repeatedly stabbing his wife, Melissa, in a Lancaster Township home.

His initial appeal of his sentence was denied in 2016. The Pennsylvania Superior Court denied his request for a new trial on Thursday.

Joseph argued that he stabbed his wife in self-defense. Police say he stabbed her more than 80 times.

The state court denied the claim, noting that Joseph did not sustain a single stab wound himself during the attack at a Sterling Place home.


The state court also denied numerous other claims, including Joseph’s assertions about:

  • His confession to police
  • His waiver of a jury trial in exchange for prosecutors dropping the death penalty
  • His competency to stand trial
  • An eyewitness’ credibility
  • How he was “coerced” not to take the stand
  • Fingerprint evidence

The Superior Court rejected all those claims and Joseph’s argument that he was convicted against the weight of evidence in the case.

Melissa Cowen, a mother of five, was killed inside her home on May 2, 2014, with her two infant children present, as First Assistant District Attorney Christopher P. Larsen proved at trial.

Assistant District Attorney Travis S. Anderson, representing the Commonwealth throughout the appeal process, has written the killing was a clear case of first-degree murder, with Joseph repeatedly stabbing the victim over a duration of time.