New trial ordered in 1992 Pa. murder-for-hire case

POTTSVILLE, Pa. (AP) — An evenly divided Pennsylvania Supreme Court has upheld a lower court ruling ordering a new trial for a man who has been on death row in what prosecutors said was a murder-for-hire committed more than two decades ago.

The 3-3 deadlock by the state’s highest court last week leaves in place a Schuylkill County judge’s ruling that Ronald Champney of Pottsville received ineffective legal representation during his trial in the 1992 murder of Roy Bensinger.

Prosecutors argued that Champney, who is now 62, was paid $25,000 to kill Bensinger in North Manheim Township. The victim’s wife, Beth Ellen Shirey, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in the case.

County and state prosecutors said the case is under review and declined comment on whether Champney would be retried.

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