BROOKVILLE â€” Jefferson County District Attorney Jeff Burkett is pleased to announce that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently upheld, for the second time, the murder conviction and death penalty of Robert Gene Rega for the killing of Christopher Lauth, the former night watchman at the Gateway Lodge.
Burkett tried and convicted Rega in June of 2002 for the slaying of Lauth, as well as for robbery and other crimes.
After a sentencing hearing, the jury held that Regaâ€™s crimes warranted death.
Rega then began a lengthy appeal process.
After a series of hearings on post-trial motions, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld Regaâ€™s conviction and death penalty on direct appeal on Oct. 17, 2007.
Represented by the Federal Defenders out of Philadelphia, Rega then filed a voluminous Amended Post Conviction Relief petition in January of 2009.
In this petition, Rega asked for a new trial and for his death penalty to be set aside.
After a series of hearings in December of 2009 and January, May and October of 2010, Jefferson County Court of Common Pleas Judge John H. Foradora denied the petition in its entirety.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court affirmed Judge Foradoraâ€™s ruling on June 17, 2013.
Burkett states, â€śI am very pleased with this ruling. Although the end is not yet in sight, it is good to have this stage behind us. When I saw the incredible resources that Rega has at his disposal â€” a team of attorneys with a substantial support staff and a big budget â€” it was somewhat daunting. The petition they filed was over 500 pages, and that doesnâ€™t even count the three thick appendices that went with it.
â€śThey had investigators and a large array of highly-paid expert witnesses at their disposal,â€ť he said. â€śThey threw everything they had at us. Fortunately, because we worked and fought hard, the truth prevailed.â€ť
Rega has asked the Supreme Court to reconsider their ruling.
This request is still pending.