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March 21, 2013

Fall trial planned in murder case

EBENSBURG — The trial of an Indiana County man charged in the beating death of a 79-year-old Northern Cambria man in 2010 likely will not begin until fall.

At a pretrial hearing for Sherman Holes, 43, of Cherry Tree, Cambria County Judge Norman Krumenacker told the prosecution and defense to be ready for jury selection Oct. 4.

The trial likely will start as soon as a jury is seated and should take the better part of three days, Krumenacker said.

“Both sides are just getting started,” he said. “They’re going through the process of discovery, sharing information.”

Police allege that Holes killed Arthur “Arch” Henry on the evening of June 30 at Henry’s Eighth Avenue home.

Henry died three days later at Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown. An autopsy showed that he had been struck at least twice with a blunt instrument, causing multiple skull fractures and bleeding in the brain.

State police said the murder weapon was a 29-inch-long wooden plank found hidden behind a washing machine near the front door of Henry’s mobile home.

The murder remained unsolved until August 2012, when a general charge of homicide and assault were filed against Holes.

Prosecutors dropped a robbery charge despite testimony at a November preliminary hearing that Holes was believed to have gone to Henry’s house seeking payment for myrtle, a ground cover he collected for Henry to sell to landscapers.

Holes was arrested after prosecutors used a relatively new method of showing mathematical probabilities linking DNA evidence found on the plank to the DNA of both Holes and the victim.

It is likely that the new approach to DNA evidence will be challenged during the trial.

Krumenacker said he anticipates approving a request by the Cambria County public defender for a DNA expert to refute the prosecution’s evidence.

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