Superior Court rules in favor of DA in ongoing cases

CDT photo

The state Superior Court has ruled in favor of the commonwealth regarding two ongoing cases in Centre County.

According to a news release by the county District Attorney’s Office, the Superior Court on Thursday granted motions to stay a Clinton County judge’s orders granting bail to Jalene McClure and Barry Grove. Both cases have had multiple hearings in the county as McClure heads to retrial and Grove seeks resentencing.

Grove pleaded guilty to animal cruelty and firearms charges in 2013; McClure was sentenced for assault in 2014.

In November, the commonwealth appealed an order entered into the Grove case to the Superior Court, the release said. While the appeal was pending, the District Attorney’s Office claimed Grove’s defense wrongly persuaded Senior Judge J. Michael Williamson to proceed with certain aspects of the case.

On Jan. 24, District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller advised the Superior Court of an emergency situation where Grove may be released to the public, the release said. A court order stopped further proceedings.

A second emergency motion was filed to overturn a Jan. 25 argument by Grove’s defense granting him a partial new trial and release on bail, the release said. The Superior Court then froze efforts for the new trial pending written arguments by the defense and prosecution.

The Superior Court ruled Thursday the District Attorney’s Office in the right, the release said, saying Grove’s imminent release created an emergency situation. Grove will remain in prison until his appeals are heard in the ordinary course of court business.

“The court moved with ... lightning speed putting the protection of the public first,” Parks Miller said in the release. “Obviously, the higher court judges recognized the danger, and the efforts by defense counsel to get Grove out of jail, were completely and utterly devoid of merit.”

Grove’s attorney, Sean McGraw, said in an email Friday that in a November hearing Williamson had granted Grove the right to pursue information about what Parks Miller and former Judge Bradley Lunsford were discussing in their “many off-the-record communications.” Parks Miller requested a stay in discovery from Williamson to make an appeal, which he refused.

He claimed Parks Miller neglected to ask the Superior Court for a stay until Jan. 24.

“It’s a shame that Ms. Parks Miller directs such vitriol at a 61-year-old man who is terminally ill with cancer,” McGraw said. “I fear, as Judge Williamson recognized, that her multiple appeals in this matter are calculated to delay the discovery of truth until Mr. Grove dies in prison.”

In a concurrent series of events, Williamson denied McClure’s bid to escape prosecution from her previous charges in December, the release said. She appealed to the Superior Court claiming she should go free.

The same appeals were filed in Williamson’s court on the same issues, the release said, creating pending motions in two different courts addressing the same issue at the same time. By law, the appeal must be decided in the higher court to avoid duplicate efforts and possible conflicting results.

In response to filing the motions, the release said, Parks Miller requested no action be taken on the case while the appeal is pending. McClure’s defense asked Williamson to set bail on Jan. 25, which he did.

Another emergency order was filed to vacate the bail order, the release said, with the Superior Court ruling Thursday in favor of the district attorney. McClure will remain incarcerated.

McClure’s attorney, Bernie Cantorna, briefly commented Friday saying Lunsford had refused Williamson’s order to testify about text messages, appealing to the Superior Court.

Jeremy Hartley: 814-231-4616, @JJHartleyNews