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Suspect without attorney; hearing continued

October 13, 2011

Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputies Dean Smith (left) and Mark Humes escort Christopher L. Thornhill (center) to the office of District Judge Douglas Chambers Thursday for Thornhill’s preliminary hearing stemming from an alleged shooting incident Sept. 22 in Punxsy. (Photo by Tom Chapin/The Punxsutawney Spirit)

PUNXSUTAWNEY — The commonwealth agreed to a continuance for Thursday’s scheduled preliminary hearing for a Pittsburgh man accused of shooting two Punxsy men last month.

Christopher L. Thornhill, 24, faces two counts each of attempted criminal homicide; aggravated assault; recklessly endangering another person; and weapons violations stemming from the Sept. 22 incident near a residence along Cranberry Alley.

When District Judge Douglas Chambers asked Thornhill if he had an attorney, he replied no. When asked if he had applied for the services of the public defender, Thornhill said he had but received a rejection notice.

Chambers said Thornhill also should have received paperwork with which to file an appeal, but Thornhill said he was rejected because he lacked some financial information required for the application.

“They said I needed some more financial information, but I don’t have any financial information,” Thornhill said.

Chambers told Thornhill he could write a letter to Common Pleas Court Judge John Foradora, asking him to appoint the public defender to his case, despite being rejected for those services.

When asked if he would like to continue the proceedings without an attorney, Thornhill replied no.

District Attorney Jeff Burkett said despite Thornhill’s missing financial information, he would qualify for the public defender, which would be appointed to him “in a second.”

Burkett said the commonwealth agreed to Chambers’ order of a continuance in the case until Thornhill receives some sort of legal representation.
The preliminary hearing could be continued until Oct. 25, depending on the public defender’s schedule. Chambers told Thornhill that he should begin his appeal in writing as late as today.

Thornhill, shackled and wearing an orange jumpsuit, was then transported back to the Jefferson County jail.

Sept. 29, U.S. Marshals and members of the Pennsylvania State Police Fugitive Task Force took Thornhill into custody at a residence in Wilkinsburg, Allegheny County, a week after he allegedly shot Richard White, 21, and Shane Glatt, 18, both of Punxsy, near a residence along Cranberry Alley Sept. 22.

The scheduled preliminary hearing Thursday had already been postponed from Oct. 6.

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