A Howard man sentenced to 82 to 164 years in state prison less than a month ago was back in court Wednesday.
Elvin Lamey, 27, was found guilty in a November trial before Judge Bradley P. Lunsford of numerous charges relating to sexually abusing three young family members. Deborah Lux, Lamey’s public defender, asked Judge Jonathan D. Grine on Wednesday for a new trial or a modified, lesser sentence for Lamey because of “various points of error” committed by Lunsford and because of an “excessive” sentence passed down by Grine.
Lux motioned for Lunsford’s recusal in October, a motion that was denied by the judge. Lux argued Wednesday that Lunsford should have recused himself because of his involvement with the Centre County Children’s Advocacy Center in Bellefonte, a spot where abused or neglected children can talk to investigators and be examined medically and psychologically.
“It’s apparent that he was biased in favor of the children and the commonwealth in this case,” she said.
The children involved in the Lamey case were not interviewed at the center, Lux said.
Lux stated for the record that two exhibits in the motion to recuse, one a series of tweets Lunsford sent about the Child Advocacy Center and the other an article written by a Penn State student in which Lunsford commented on children testifying in court, are missing from the public record.
Last month, county commissioners voted unanimously to fund expanding services provided by a law firm representing the Prothonotary’s Office in relation to missing records.
Lamey’s case is sealed, common for cases involving alleged sex crimes against children. Filings made at the Prothonotary’s Office in cases against Eric Crader, Joseph Bailey and Edward Geier are also under seal.
Lux also argued that Lunsford repeatedly sustained objections made by prosecutors when character witnesses for Lamey testified at trial, testimony that Lux maintains should have been allowed, among other reasons for a new trial.
If Grine did not rule in favor of a new trial, Lux asked that he reconsider the sentence, one she described as “manifestly excessive and essentially a life sentence.” Grine sentenced Lamey after he was assigned the case when Lunsford was reassigned from hearing criminal cases with the exception of DUI Court in December.
Assistant District Attorney Lisa Epperly-Galanis disagreed with Lux, adding that she had “a problem” with Lux’s reasoning about Lunsford’s work involving the center showing bias or prejudice against defendants.
“She’s asking a judge to give up doing good works because a conflict might arise some day,” Epperly-Galanis said.
She also said she didn’t see a conflict because the children involved in the Lamey case were never involved with the center and that the sentence was fair because the sentence Grine handed down was within the guidelines.
Lunsford declined to comment because judges can’t comment on cases currently being litigated.
Grine has 120 days from the date the motion was filed, April 24, to make a ruling. If he does not reach a decision, the motion will be automatically denied, but Lamey can still make appeals to the state Superior Court.