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A man serving life in prison for the brutal killing of two Lancaster brothers will get no relief from the Pennsylvania Superior Court.
Joshua Proper, now 21, argued on appeal that the court process was too slow, and that his charges should have been dropped.
The appellate court ruled, however, that continuances in Proper’s case were at his request so his attorneys could develop a mitigation defense to the death penalty.
Proper and Juan Cristo-Munoz broke into a Poplar Street home on Feb. 19, 2017, and killed Leroy Kinsey and Richard Walton. The disabled victims were stabbed and repeatedly beaten inside their home.
Defendants must be brought to trial in a timely fashion, and Proper claims those rights were violated, and his attorneys were ineffective for not raising such a claim.
The appellate court, in a 13-page opinion released Tuesday, pointed out that delays in the case “were granted to allow [defense] counsel to develop a mitigation defense in a death penalty case.”
Proper pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder and related charges in exchange for a life sentence and the death penalty being taken off the table.
Cristo-Munoz also pleaded guilty and was sentenced to consecutive life terms.
Prosecutors deemed Proper’s role in the killings “less significant” than Cristo-Munoz’s.
Assistant District Attorney Christine L. Wilson prosecuted the cases. Assistant District Attorney James Reeder represented the Commonwealth in the recent post-conviction matter.
Lancaster city police Detective Eric McCrady filed charges.
At Proper’s sentencing in 2018, Lancaster County President Judge David Ashworth noted that Proper took responsibility – he confessed to police – but told Proper that “does not in any way diminish your responsibility in this case.”
Kinsey, who used a wheelchair, was stabbed at least ten times in his living room.
Walton, an amputee, was stabbed 54 times in an upstairs bedroom; a sword was used in his killing.
Proper also objected to President Judge Ashworth relying on a hearing transcript from Cristo-Munoz’s case while denying Proper’s earlier appeal. The Superior Court ruled that Proper did not argue against that procedure at the appropriate time.
MEDIA CONTACT: Brett A. Hambright, 717-295-2041; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @BrettHambright