Crime

He said he killed a Penn State professor. Now he wants to take back the confession.

Woman charged in Penn State professor's death.

A woman, Danielle Geier, was charged in the death of Penn State professor Ronald Bettig.
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A woman, Danielle Geier, was charged in the death of Penn State professor Ronald Bettig.

The defense for George Ishler, accused in the death of Penn State professor Ronald Bettig, has filed several pre-trial motions seeking, among other things, the suppression of Ishler’s statement to the police.

Ronald Bettig, of Lemont, was reported missing on Aug. 16. His body was found a few days later at the bottom of a quarry in Potter Township.

Murder charges soon followed for George Ishler, 39, and Danelle Geier, 32, both of whom are accused of conspiring and planning Bettig’s death. According to police testimony, Bettig, Ishler and Geier had driven to the quarry on Aug. 12 when Ishler allegedly pushed Bettig, causing him to fall to the bottom.

According to court documents filed Monday by Ishler and his attorney, Karen Muir, Ishler is seeking four motions.

The first motion seeks to sever Ishler and Geier’s cases from being tried together. A notice of consolidation was issued by the Court of Common Pleas on Sept. 22.

According to the motion, Ishler contends that he would be severely prejudiced by having the cases tried together, saying that in the event Geier does not testify, her statement to the police would be admitted as evidence against him. Ishler’s counsel would not have the opportunity to cross-examine what she allegedly said, a violation of the Sixth Amendment.

The motion also contends that the commonwealth and Geier’s counsel participated in a view of the crime scene with Geier’s counsel but failed to inform or invite Ishler’s counsel to view as well.

The second motion seeks to suppress the statement Ishler made to police on Aug. 18 regarding his role in Bettig’s death.

Ishler was transported from the State College police station to Pennsylvania state police barracks after midnight Aug. 18, the motion said. On his arrival, he was interrogated for five hours by three troopers.

According to State College police, the motion said, Ishler decided to “come clean” during “an unrecorded and unwitnessed one-on-one conversation.” Ishler gave a recorded statement at 5:45 a.m.

The motion contends that Ishler was not Mirandized, his requests for legal counsel were refused and he was told what to say by police, adding that “Ishler did not make any statements voluntarily, but rather any statements that were made implicating him in the death of Mr. Bettig were made under duress, coercion or with now-unfulfilled promises by law enforcement.”

The third motion seeks the appointment of experts and an investigator to assist in Ishler’s defense.

Ishler remains incarcerated in the Centre County Correctional Facility having been denied bail, the motion said. According to discovery so far, there are at least 50 witnesses to be interviewed and possibly subpoenaed.

The motion requests the services of an investigator, a forensic psychologist, a forensic pathologist, an expert in the areas of DNA and fingerprints, a technician and an attorney licensed to pratice law in Delaware. Without these, the motion contends, Ishler will be denied his right to a fair trial, effective counsel and due process, violating the Fifth, Sixth and 14th Amendments.

A final motion seeks a view of the crime scene with Ishler and his counsel.

Since Ishler was not arrested at the scene and a second person has been charged with the crime as well, the motion said, he believes it’s necessary to accompany his counsel to the scene to explain what he remembers using landmarks at the scene, adding “This is impossible to do with just photographs.”

Jeremy Hartley: 814-231-4616, @JJHartleyNews

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