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Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling keeps resentencing hearing open in old murder case


UNIONTOWN, Pennsylvania — The state Supreme Court has rejected a request to close a western Pennsylvania courtroom for a resentencing hearing in a decades-old murder case.

Fifty-nine-year-old Scott Blystone was sentenced to death for the 1983 shooting death of 24-year-old hitchhiker Dalton Smithburger in South Union Township. But a federal judge said in 2012 that Blystone's attorney should have presented mitigating testimony during sentencing.

The (Uniontown) Herald-Standard ( reports that Blystone's new attorneys say their client's mother would be afraid to offer mitigating testimony if the hearing wasn't closed to the public.

A lower court refused to close the hearing, and the high court said it had no jurisdiction to overturn that decision.

The Supreme Court said Norma Blystone would testify that her husband abused her son, traumatizing him for life.

Blystone was convicted of shooting Smithburger six times in the back of the head after robbing him of $13. At the request of state police, a witness wore a wire and recorded Blystone admitting to the killing.

The resentencing hearing hasn't been scheduled.

Information from: Herald-Standard,

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