Bettig murder trial likely pushed until spring

George Ishler Jr. walks toward the courthouse Wednesday Aug 31, 2016 in Bellefonte.
George Ishler Jr. walks toward the courthouse Wednesday Aug 31, 2016 in Bellefonte. Centre Daily Times, file

A trial for a man and a woman accused of killing a Penn State professor might not happen until April.

George Ishler, 40, and Danelle Geier, 33, were charged with murder and conspiracy in connection with the death of Ronald Bettig in August 2016. Both have been awaiting trial since they were bound over in a preliminary hearing that same month.

Trial dates have continuously been pushed back for various legal reasons. Most recently, a trial in September was continued citing a request for a mental health evaluation to determine Ishler’s competency to stand trial.

Ishler’s attorney, Karen Muir, stated in court Monday that, while she was not happy with the outcome of the evaluation, she respected the “limited methodology in determining competence.”

In discussions with President Judge Pamela Ruest, Muir and Deborah Lux — Geier’s attorney — discussed the issue of taking the jury to the quarry where Bettig’s body was recovered.

That visit is planned for the second day of the trial. The lawyers noted that weather conditions were unlikely to be favorable in the early months of the year. The court agreed that April would likely have better conditions.

The court also discussed that, while the assistant district attorneys are prepared to bring the case to trial, it was important to bring incoming District Attorney Bernie Cantorna in on the proceedings.

The court indicated the trial would be scheduled for 12 days. Ruest said she would issue a ruling to postpone the trial until the February term.

Jeremy Hartley: 814-231-4616, @JJHartleyNews