Lancaster man convicted of burning another man to death in 1998 will not get new trial, judge rules

LANCASTER — A Lancaster man currently serving life in prison for burning another man to death in 1998 will not get a new trial, according to the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office.

Derrick Burnside was convicted of second-degree murder and related charges in 2004 for the killing of James Bell on Dec. 22, 1998. Burnside doused Bell with lighter fluid and set him on fire during a drug deal in Lancaster. Bell sustained severe burns over 18 percent of his body and later died of his injuries.

Burnside was seeking a new trial because, he argued, multiple witnesses from the original trial have recanted their statements.

But Lancaster County Judge Margaret Miller denied Burnside’s request, ruling that the recantations were “coerced,” according to the DA’s Office.

In addition, Miller ruled, “newly discovered evidence would not compel a result different” from the conviction.

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