Frank R. Chester, who participated in the grisly slashing death of gay artist Anthony Milano in 1987, continues to seek his freedom by contending that his joint trial with Richard R. Laird was unconstitutional.
In 1988, a Bucks County jury found both men guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced them to death.
But in 2001, U.S. District Judge Jan E. DuBois vacated Laird’s first-degree murder conviction, citing faulty jury instructions.
Ten years later, U.S. District Judge C. Darnell Jones 2d vacated Chester’s first-degree murder conviction, citing the same faulty jury instructions.
In 2006, prosecutors re-tried Laird for first-degree murder, and a Bucks County jury re-sentenced him to death.
Chester, however, wants Jones to vacate his lesser convictions, including second-degree murder and kidnapping. If Jones vacates those convictions, the possibility exists that Chester will be released from prison.
In an Aug. 30 motion, attorneys for Chester said his joint trial with Laird was unconstitutional because it allowed the jury to hear accusations by Laird that Chester was Milano’s murderer.
Jones hadn’t ruled on the motion at presstime.
This week, Bucks County First Assistant District Attorney Michelle A. Henry said the office will re-try Chester for first-degree murder, even if he stops asking for his lesser convictions to be vacated.
“We’ll try him again for first-degree murder, and seek the death penalty, as we did with Richard Laird,” Henry told PGN.
Attorneys for Chester had no comment for this story.
Chester, 44, remains on death row at the state prison in Graterford. Laird, 50, remains on death row at the state prison in Franklin Township.
Officer continues appeal
Officer Michael A. Paige, who allegedly sexually assaulted a man while on duty, plans to appeal an unfavorable jury verdict stemming from the 2007 incident, according to court records.
During the pre-dawn hours of March 16, 2007, Paige allegedly forced James Harris to perform oral sex on him inside Paige’s cruiser at a secluded area of Fairmount Park.
In June 2012, a federal jury found Paige liable for $165,000 in damages, due to his alleged assault of Harris.
But the money hasn’t been paid to Harris, and Paige maintains his innocence, citing a 2008 judicial ruling clearing him of any criminal wrongdoing.
In a Sept. 11 letter to U.S. District Judge Robert F. Kelly, attorneys for Paige asked the judge to vacate the jury verdict. If Kelly refuses to do that, Paige plans to appeal to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, according to the letter.
Neither side had any comment for this story.
— Timothy Cwiek Lecture on AIDS denial
The Philadelphia Association for Critical Thinking will sponsor a free lecture on the problem of HIV/AIDS denial in South Africa.
The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be held at 2 p.m. Sept. 21 at the Community College of Philadelphia’s Business & Industry Center, 1751 Callowhill St.
Nicoli Nattrass, director of the AIDS and Society Research Unit at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, will talk about her new book, “The AIDS Conspiracy: Science Fights Back.”
For more information, visit www.phact.org.
Liberty City hosts candidate night
Liberty City LGBT Democratic Club will host its Fall Candidates Night from 6-8 p.m. Sept. 26 at William Way LGBT Community Center, 1315 Spruce St.
Speakers include incumbent City Controller candidate Alan Butkovitz. There will also be a facilitated panel workshop and discussion for LGBTs interested in running for city committeeperson positions.
RSVP on Liberty City’s Facebook page. Free beer and pizza will be included in the session.
For more information, visit www.libertycity.org.
Rally for LGBT equality
Join LGBT community organizers and organizations in a rally promoting equality for LGBT citizens.
Marriage Equality for Pennsylvania, Marriage Equality USA and the Delaware Valley chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State will host a Rally for LGBT Equality from noon-3 p.m. Sept. 28 at Logan Circle, 18th Street and the Parkway.
The event will include discussions on marriage equality, federal and statewide nondiscrimination laws and efforts to engage youth in the equality movement.
The rally will take place adjacent to College Day on the Parkway.
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/events/153017274897172/.
Church hosts panel on DOMA ruling
After the June ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court striking down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, many local LGBTs have questions on the ruling’s implications for Pennsylvanians.
The Glenside United Church of Christ, 2160 Wharton Road, will host a panel for community members to learn more about the local impact of the decision at 2 p.m. Sept. 29.
Panelists include state Reps. Brian Sims and Steve McCarter, LGBT family-law attorney Tiffany Palmer and Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes. Temple Law associate professor Sara Jacobson will moderate.
Guests are encouraged to come with plenty of questions or send in questions to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Childcare is available by reservation only. To reserve childcare, call 267-304-6244.
Art-Reach celebrates 27 years with festival
Art-Reach, a nonprofit dedicated to making art more accessible to people with disabilities, economic disadvantages and other adversities, will host its annual Art-Reach Fall Festival from noon-4 p.m. Sept. 29.
The festival will be on the grounds of Ridgeland Mansion in West Fairmount Park and will include live entertainment and food.
All proceeds from the festival will go toward Art-Reach programs.
For more information, visit www.art-reach.org.
— Angela Thomas