The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

September 24, 2007

Windber murder suspect waives extradition to Michigan

By KIRK SWAUGER

SOMERSET — A Windber comic-shop owner suspected of murdering his estranged wife 17 years ago has decided to fight the charges in Michigan.

Michael George, 46, owner of Comics World on Graham Avenue, waived extradition Monday before Somerset County President Judge John Cascio.

His attorney, Tim Leventry of Richland Township, said George made the decision after receiving documents about the case from prosecutors in Michigan.

“No information in those documents, we believe, suggests any form of homicide,” Leventry said.

“We want to get Mr. George to Michigan as quickly as possible to have a preliminary hearing.”

George is expected to be transported to Michigan in 10 days to two weeks, Somerset County District Attorney Jerry Spangler said.

Gov. Ed Rendell had issued a warrant for George to proceed with extradition.

“It’s not uncommon, once the paperwork is finally received, for defendants to waive extradition,” Spangler said, adding his office typically handles about 30 to 40 extraditions a year.

“I can probably count on one hand the number of contested extraditions that have taken place here over the last 10 years.”

Spangler said the governor’s warrant required prosecutors to prove charges are pending against George in Michigan, and that George is the right suspect.

Michigan authorities have charged George with first- and second-degree murder and a weapons violation in the execution-style killing of his then-wife, Barbara Marie George, on July 13, 1990.

The 32-year-old woman’s body was found by two customers in a storage area at the back of a comics store he owned then in Michigan.

She died from a single, close-range gunshot to the head from a semi-automatic handgun, Thomas Eleinko, assistant prosecuting attorney for Macomb County, Mich., said in an affidavit setting forth the basis for extradition.

Eleinko said Michael and Barbara George had been married for nine years and described their marriage as unhappy. He said Michael George had obtained $125,000 in life-insurance proceeds as well as $13,000 in other insurance benefits.

George wanted a divorce, but his wife refused, Michigan authorities said.

“The defendant has no bona fide alibi for his whereabouts at the time of the shooting,” Eleinko wrote.