Accused murderers Haggie, Theobald appear in county court
SMETHPORT — The two men accused in the murder of a pregnant woman at the Riddell House in September were in McKean County Court Thursday to apprise President Judge John Pavlock of the progress in their criminal cases.
Thomas Paul Haggie’s case was handled first. Haggie, 30, and Greggory Alan Theobald, 20, are both charged with two counts each of homicide and conspiracy to commit homicide for the murders of Megan Konopka, 21, and her unborn son, on Sept. 12 at the Riddell House.
The first item handled was the conclusion of argument in a motion to suppress evidence in Haggie’s case. At issue is the entry of investigating Bradford City Police Officer Mike Ward into Haggie’s rented room at the Riddell House without a warrant.
On Sept. 13, police received a call from a woman in California who knew Haggie. She explained he called and told her he killed someone, and sent her a picture of the body through her cell phone. Police were able to identify the Riddell House from a photo she forwarded to them, and went there to see if there was someone in need of assistance.
Officers knocked at the door of Haggie’s room, found it to be unlocked and Ward entered. When he saw Konopka’s lifeless body, he immediately left the room, secured the scene and obtained a search warrant.
Defense attorneys Gary Knaresboro and Mike Marshall argued that he shouldn’t have entered, saying the pictures and information obtained from the woman in California should have been enough to convince the police that anyone inside the room was already dead.
“The possibility of someone needing help was so remote,” Marshall said at the hearing Thursday. “If you know someone’s been killed, there’s no exigent need to get to them.”
District Attorney Ray Learn argued that Ward had a “good faith belief someone may be in peril of bodily harm,” which is an exception to the law requiring search warrants. He explained the photos sent to Ward showed a “bloody body.” It wasn’t clear that the person in the photo was dead, Learn said.
“When he saw that she was dead, he went for a warrant,” Learn said.
President Judge John Pavlock said he would take the matters into consideration and issue a ruling in the near future.
He then asked the attorneys if the case was anywhere close to being ready for trial.
Knaresboro explained that the defense attorneys are awaiting Haggie’s records from California, which the court-appointed psychiatrist wants to see prior to examining him. Learn said depending on the findings of the psychiatrist, the prosecution may want to have an expert examine Haggie as well.
“We need to set some targets in this case and try to keep them,” Pavlock said, setting another status conference for 45 days from Thursday.
After the conclusion of Haggie’s case, Theobald was brought before the court with his attorneys, Dennis Luttenauer and John Ingros. The attorneys all met with Pavlock in his chambers for several minutes, then returned to the courtroom. Pavlock announced there were some discovery issues with the defense, as e-mailed photos could not be opened.
The prosecution agreed to rectify the issue, and Pavlock set another status conference for 30 days from Thursday.
Both Haggie and Theobald remain incarcerated without bail. The prosecution is seeking the death penalty in both cases. http://www.bradfordera.com/articles/2010/05/23/news/doc4bf5f5d5d334a059690032.txt