Man gets new trial in 2002 kidnapping death of acquaintance

AP News
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Posted: Sep 19, 2015 2:19 PM

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A man serving a life term in a drug-related kidnapping and murder more than a dozen years ago has been granted a new trial in a case that also landed two former Pennsylvania college football players behind bars.

The attorney for Jared Henkel, 33, of Mount Lebanon, provided ineffective legal advice in not calling his client to testify or preparing him to testify on his own behalf, U.S. Magistrate Robert Mitchell ruled Thursday.

Henkel and Jared Lischner were convicted of second-degree murder in the 2002 slaying of 19-year-old Andrew Jones. Craig Elias, 35, was convicted of first-degree murder. All were sentenced to life in prison.

Lischner, 33, earlier won a new trial on the same grounds and eventually agreed to plead guilty to third-degree murder and is now serving a term of 10 to 20 years. An appeal by Elias is pending.

Elias and Lischner were previously members of the Duquesne football team. Elias was a defensive tackle and Lischner a defensive end.

Authorities alleged that the defendants killed Jones and dumped his body in the Ohio River after weighing it down with chains and barbell equipment because they believed he had stolen drugs and money from a safe in a Pittsburgh home they sometimes shared.

Henkel argued that his lawyer and the attorney representing Elias had agreed that Elias would testify that Henkel and Lischner had left the house where Jones was being held before he was killed. But at trial, he said, Elias decided not to testify, and that left Henkel without a defense because his attorney hadn't prepared him to testify on his own behalf.

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The headlines of this story have been corrected to show the killing happened in 2002, not 2012.