State Superior Court upholds homicide conviction for Lancaster County man

LANCASTER COUNTY — A convicted killer from Lancaster County hoping for a re-trial will get no such relief after a Pennsylvania appellate court denied his claims, according to the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office.

Lucas Newnam, 33, was convicted of first-degree murder — and sentenced to life in prison — for the May 27, 2016, shooting of Julius Dale at a home on Creek Road in Sadsbury Township.

The state Superior Court recently shot down his attempt to get a new trial for the crime, meaning Newnam cannot escape his conviction or the life sentence that accompanies it.

Lancaster County Assistant District Attorney Travis S. Anderson presented trial evidence — which a local judge called “overwhelming” — that Newnam shot Dale in the chest with a shotgun.

Anderson called several witnesses who were at the home when Dale was shot, including an eyewitness to the shooting who testified that Dale did nothing threatening toward Newnam.

Newnam claimed a number of improprieties about his conviction, which the appellate court addressed and found to be without merit:

  • Newnam argued his conversations with his mother during prison visits should not have been allowed at trial. The appellate court found no breach of Wiretap law because there were signs in the room indicating the conversations would be recorded.
  • Newnam argued his statement to police should not have been presented to the jury. The appellate court found that while police did not advise Newnam, prior to Miranda Rights, of what would be discussed, they did not have to because Newnam was taken into custody at the scene of the crime.
  • Newnam argued a Castle Doctrine instruction should have been read to the jury before deliberations. The appellate court found there was no evidence of unlawful entry at the home which was a location utilized by Newnam for a drug enterprise, which removes Castle Doctrine as a potential defense.
  • Newnam argued he should have been allowed to change his attorney — 10 days before trial. The appellate court found that Newnam would have been allowed to have the new lawyer, if the case could have gone forward on the scheduled date.

At sentencing, Lancaster County Judge Donald Totaro called the killing “premeditated” and “intentional,” and said Newnam lied to the jury when he testified.

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