The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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July 14, 2009

Convicted child killer seeks DNA tests

EBENSBURG — Convicted child killer Stephen Rex Edmiston is due back in Cambria County Court on Friday as he continues to try to overturn his 1989 conviction in the rape, torture and murder of a young girl.

His conviction in the slaying of

21/2-year-old Bobbi Jo Matthew of Clearfield County has been upheld by several courts in various appeals during the past two decades.

His attorneys now have filed additional post-conviction motions, including one seeking to have DNA testing done on evidence from the 1988 murder.

Authorities charged that Edmiston abducted the girl from her crib at her grandmother’s home outside Beccaria, Clearfield County, around 3 a.m. Oct. 5, 1988. He drove her to a remote site in Reade Township in northern Cambria County, where he sexually assaulted, beat and scalped her, authorities alleged.

Edmiston was convicted at a nonjury trial before Judge Gerard Long in

July 1989. Three months later, a jury brought in from Northampton County for the penalty phase of the trial sentenced the defendant to death.

Edmiston, now 51, is on death row at State Correctional Institution-Greene in southwestern Pennsylvania. He was from Petersburg, Huntingdon County.

On Friday, Senior Judge Eugene Fike of Somerset County – who has been assigned to handle the case – will hear legal arguments on the DNA testing.

Long had been handling Edmiston’s appeals, but he removed himself from the case after a state prosecutor joined the defense in seeking his recusal.

The defense has contended for years that Cambria County judges would be hard-pressed to remain impartial because one of them – former District Attorney Timothy Creany – was the lead prosecutor. In addition, it was pointed out that Creany and Long formerly worked together in representing black lung cases for the United Mine Workers of America.

The state’s case now is being handled by Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Buck, while Edmiston continues to be represented by attorney Robert Dunham from the Defender Association of Philadelphia.

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