Man on Death Row to Be Released From Prison

Friday, Apr 26, 2013  |  Updated 4:52 AM EDT
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Death Row Inmate to Be Released

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A federal judge has thrown out the death penalty given to an eastern Reading, Pa. man who's spent 15 years on death row.

District Judge Anita Brody also overturned Shawnfatee Bridges' murder conviction because prosecutors did not provide the defense with police records that could have impeached a key witness.

In a 114-page opinion, Brody concluded that former District Attorney Mark C. Baldwin did not provide the defense with police records for key prosecution witness George Robles. She said the information linking Robles to four other shootings could have been used to impeach Robles' testimony, reports The Reading Eagle.

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"There is no doubt that the police records relating to Robles are impeaching, and this is favorable to Bridges," Brody wrote. "They present evidence that Robles was involved in some way in at least four shootings in an 18-month period."

Bridges had been found guilty of the 1996 drug-related slayings of Reading cousins Damon and Gregory Banks.

The cousins' bodies were discovered on a gravel road off West Neversink Street in Exeter Township. Damon Banks was shot 13 times, and Gregory Banks was shot five times, according to the paper.

The Reading Eagle reported Thursday that Brody overturned the death penalty because the defense didn't call an expert psychiatric witness during the sentencing hearing.

Brody ordered prosecutors to release the now 36-year-old Bridges from state prison in Graterford by Aug. 21 unless he is retried.

District Attorney John Adams says he'll appeal the ruling. He is also preparing to retry the case. 

 


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