A Lycoming County Court judge Monday denied a motion made by a county attorney with the public defender's office who asked her to overturn a conviction by jury of a man accused of shooting to death another man at Fourth and Market streets last year.
Judge Nancy L. Butts denied the motion by Roger Mitchell Riera, made on his behalf by Attorney Jeana A. Longo, who asked Butts to "arrest judgment" on two counts in which Riera was found guilty: third-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter. Riera also was found guilty of aggravated assault for the killing of Andrew Scott Gula on Sept. 18, 2011.
In her motion, that Longo said was meant to protect the record should a post-sentence appeal be made, she argued there was insufficient evidence to find Riera guilty of murder based on there being no evidence or proof of malice. The jury, she said, would have had to speculate on malice.
The shooting occurred following an exchange of words that took place around 1:50 a.m. outside a bar and eatery in the 300 block of Market Street.
Gula, Riera and a group of people with Riera became vocal and Gula had to be restrained by others as Riera and people with him walked toward a parking lot near West Fourth and Court streets. Riera claimed Gula ran at him, threatening to kill him and that Gula was told twice to stop before Riera took a .32-caliber pistol out of his pocket and shot him once, believing it was in the shoulder.
Prior to the judge's ruling, Assistant District Attorney Aaron S. Biichle asked Butts to deny the motion.
Nothing about the jury verdict should be shocking, he said.
As the presiding judge, Butts said the court would have entertained oral arguments and that her belief was the jury did not speculate at trial.
Riera's sentencing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Nov. 27.