Judge stays Pa. execution

Sept. 21, 2011 at 2:15 PM
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PITTSBURGH, Sept. 21 (UPI) -- A federal judge signed a stay of execution Wednesday for a man sentenced to die in Pennsylvania for killing a young police officer in 1980.

The order gives John C. Lesko, 52, time to appeal his conviction and sentence in the federal courts, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported. Gov. Tom Corbett signed his death warrant last week, and Lesko, who has exhausted his state appeals, had been scheduled to die by lethal injection Nov. 9.

Samuel Angell, Lesko's lawyer, argued that his client's co-defendant, Michael Travaglia, who is also on death row, was the actual killer of police officer Leonard Miller, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said. Travaglia and Lesko were convicted of killing four people during an eight-day crime spree.

Miller, 21, started work as a police officer in Apollo, a small town in western Pennsylvania, only three days before he was shot on Jan. 3, 1980.

While Pennsylvania has more than 200 people on death row, the state has executed only three men in recent decades, the last one in 1999. All voluntarily stopped appealing their sentences.

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