Judge rescues self in hearing in 1983 Pa. murder

UNIONTOWN, Pa. (AP) — A western Pennsylvania judge has recused herself from a resentencing hearing in the western Pennsylvania murder of a hitchhiker three decades ago.

Fifty-seven-year-old Scott Blystone of Fairchance has been on death row since his conviction in the 1983 murder of Dalton Smithburger Jr.

Authorities in Fayette County said Blystone shot Smithburger six times in the head for $13 in gas money.

A federal appeals court last year granted him a new sentencing hearing, saying his attorney should have called mental health specialists who might have convinced jurors to sentence him to life.

Judge Nancy Vernon says she will recuse herself from the resentencing proceedings because defense attorneys have alleged misconduct by prosecutors who now serve as senior judges.

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