A Marietta man convicted of burning his friend wants a new trial in which his mother would be allowed to testify.
Jeremy Hostetter is serving a 10-to-20-year prison term after a jury convicted him of setting fire to his friend on a East Donegal roadside.
Hostter, 37, is arguing on appeal that his mother should’ve been allowed to take the stand at trial.
The Pennsylvania Superior Court recently denied that appeal, finding that Hostetter’s mother’s testimony wouldn’t have changed the verdict.
Hostetter and the victim had a verbal dispute prior to the burning. Hostetter’s defense strategy was that he acted in self-defense by setting fire to the man.
His mother, he argued on appeal, could’ve testified about medical surgeries Hostetter underwent which prevent him from being able to run – and flee the scene of the dispute.
Prosecutors objected at trial, and the judge agreed, that the surgeries happened when Hostetter was a kid; a doctor would have to testify about Hostetter’s ability to run 20-plus years after the surgeries.
The Superior Court, in its 15-page opinion, writes that the mother should’ve been allowed to testify. However, the high court found, her testimony wouldn’t have altered the jury’s verdict.
The high court points to a pair of eyewitnesses to the burning incident.
Both witnesses testified that Hostetter and the victim had a brief scuffle before Hostetter doused the victim with a flammable liquid. Hostetter followed the victim, the witnesses testified, before setting him ablaze.
The high court ruled that evidence shows Hostetter wasn’t in danger and didn’t need to act in self-defense by setting the man on fire.
Lancaster County Assistant District Attorney Christopher Lechner prosecuted the case.
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