Mirinda Boob hearing delayed; co-conspirator Heichel appeal continues

lfalce@centredaily.comJune 14, 2014 

— Prosecutors have responded to Mirinda Boob’s request for an appeal.

The former Bellefonte woman, now an inmate at Muncy state prison, was convicted in 2011 of the murder of her husband, Samuel. In January, her attorney, Charles Lopresti, filed a petition for post-conviction collateral relief, citing incompetence on the part of her former attorney, Ed Blanarik, who died in 2013.

A hearing was supposed to be held in the case Friday but has been rescheduled for 2 p.m. July 29.

However, Assistant District Attorney Nathan Boob, no relation to the defendant, has filed an answer to the petition.

Among the examples of alleged failings, Lopresti asserted that Blanarik hadn’t pushed for enforcement of a plea agreement he says was reached with Michael Madeira, who was then the Centre County district attorney. Lopresti said evidence of the plea agreement would be presented at a hearing.

The prosecution said it doesn’t matter.

“... Any of (Madeira’s) powers to negotiate on behalf of the (c)ommonwealth expired with his term of office,” Nathan Boob said in his filing. Stacy Parks Miller, he said, was not obligated to agree to the plea deal when she took over as district attorney.

Even so, the office doesn’t necessarily agree that there was a deal.

“It is denied that any binding or enforceable plea agreement was ever reached between petitioner and Mr. Madeira,” Nathan Boob’s answer stated. “An evidentiary hearing will never refute said facts.”

Among those “facts” are that Mirinda Boob never testified against her co-defendant, Ronald Heichel, which reportedly was an aspect of the plea. Heichel also was found guilty of murder in the case. Police said he shot Samuel Boob twice in the chest with a shotgun in August 2009 after Mirinda Boob lured him into the garage.

Heichel had a conference for an appeal proceeding Friday. According to court documents, the grounds on which he is requesting relief include ineffective counsel, obstruction of his appeals by government officials, unavailability of exculpatory evidence at the time of trial, a sentence greater than legally allowed and constitutionality.

In his handwritten filing, Heichel said he was convicted based on secondhand testimony of witnesses who recounted Mirinda Boob’s statements, in violation of his Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights.

“The witness statements should not have been allowed and regarded as hearsay not fact,” Heichel wrote, saying this essentially denied him his right to confront his accuser, because Mirinda Boob never took the stand at trial.

He alleged that his attorney at the time, Casey McClain, failed him by questioning few witnesses during trial, saying the public defender “abandoned me and left me with no representation.” Heichel also detailed four witnesses for a potential evidentiary hearing. One, he claims, could potentially exonerate him. Three others would testify to coercion or coaching on the part of the District Attorney’s Office.

Heichel also claims Centre County Judge Pamela A. Ruest should have recused herself from the case on the grounds of prior representation of his family members before taking the bench.

Heichel’s request was filed in March 2013. The District Attorney’s Office responded in May 2013, saying the “bald boilerplate assertions are meritless.” On Feb. 18, the court directed him to file an amended petition within 60 days. None was presented. Nathan Boob subsequently asked the court to deny the appeal.

Heichel is serving life at Mahanoy state prison.

Lori Falce can be reached at 235-3910. Follow her on Twitter @LoriFalce.

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