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The original item was published from 4/26/2019 1:13:17 PM to 9/7/2019 5:05:03 PM.

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District Attorney

Posted on: April 26, 2019

[ARCHIVED] No Relief for Murderer who Set Man Ablaze in 1998; Judge Finds Recanted Statements ‘Coerced’


A Lancaster man serving life in prison for burning a man to death 20 years ago will not get a new trial, a local judge has ruled.

Derrick Burnside was convicted in 2004 of second-degree murder and related charges for the killing of James Bell.

On Dec. 22, 1998, Burnside doused Bell with lighter fluid and set him on fire during a drug transaction in an alley near Burnside’s city home.

Bell sustained severe burns over 18 percent of his body and later died.

Burnside was seeking a new trial because, he argues, multiple witnesses from his trial have since recanted their statements.

Lancaster County Judge Margaret Miller recently denied Burnside’s request, finding the recantations were “coerced.”

Additionally, Judge Miller ruled, the “newly-discovered evidence would not compel a result different” from the conviction.

Assistant District Attorney James Reeder represented the Commonwealth in the post-conviction matter.

Lancaster city police filed charges.

MEDIA CONTACT: Brett A. Hambright, 717-295-2041;; Twitter: @BrettHambright

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