The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

December 4, 2012

Death phase delayed for Fairchance man in hitchhiker case

Associated Press

UNIONTOWN — A death row inmate convicted of killing a hitchhiker for $13 in gas money almost three decades ago in western Pennsylvania has wants to delay his new death sentencing hearing.

The Herald-Standard of Uniontown reports Tuesday that jury selection will begin in October for in Fayette County for 56-year-old Scott Wayne Blystone of Fairchance. He was convicted in the 1983 murder of Dalton Charles Smithburger Jr., a mentally disabled man.

A federal appeals court in January upheld a lower court decision that Blystone's attorney should have called mental health specialists as witnesses, who might have convinced jurors to sentence him to life.

The new jury must decide only whether Blystone remains on death row or gets life in prison without parole. His murder conviction for shooting Smithburger six times in the head stands.