An evidentiary hearing for William F. Smithson has been postponed until May so that his new court-appointed attorney can become more familiar with the case.
In 2008, Smithson was convicted of murdering coworker Jason Shephard and sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.
But Smithson maintains his innocence and claims he was denied the opportunity to confront several key witnesses in the case.
He also contends that police failed to properly investigate F. Bruce Covington, who was also inside Smithson’s home at the time of Shephard’s death.
Additionally, Smithson contends that his trial attorney, G. Guy Smith, served ineffectively during his murder trial.
Smithson’s new attorney, Henry DiBenedetto-Forrest, couldn’t be reached for comment.
In an August court proceeding, Delaware County Common Pleas Judge Barry C. Dozor said an evidentiary hearing was necessary before he decides whether Smithson should have a new trial.
Dozor scheduled the hearing for Jan. 14-15, 2013.
The new hearing date is 9:30 a.m. May 8-9 at the Delaware County Courthouse, 201 W. Front Street in Media, in a courtroom to be announced.
According to the prosecution, Smithson lured Shephard into his home, slipped him the “date-rape” drug gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB), then strangled him to death in the course of trying to rape him.
But Smithson contends that Shephard willingly came to his home on Sept. 18, 2006, partly for the purpose of having sex, which he said the two men had also engaged in the day before.
Smithson’s previous court-appointed attorney was removed after he stated publicly that Smithson’s appeal lacks merit.
Smithson, 47, remains incarcerated at a state prison in Huntingdon.
— Timothy Cwiek