Convicted murderer Gregory Orlando Fann is staying in prison.
Fann, 27, formerly of Wilkes-Barre, was convicted in a Luzerne County non-jury trial on Feb. 16, 2010, in the killing of Aaron Witko, 19, in a wooded area near the Susquehanna River in Edwardsville on May 29, 2008.
State police at Wyoming said Fann intended to purchase an assault rifle from Witko when he pulled out a .44 Magnum handgun and fired four shots at Witko.
Fann sought relief claiming ineffective lawyers when he opted for a bench trial before Senior Judge Joseph Augello instead of a jury. He said he “did not voluntarily and knowingly make a personal decision to waive his right to a jury trial.”
The state Superior Court late Tuesday denied Fann’s appeal for relief, ruling Fann signed a “Waiver of Jury Trial” document that indicates he “fully understood” his right to be tried by a jury of his peers and had waived that right.
The appellate court found Fann’s waiver to a jury trial was “voluntary, knowing and intelligent.”
While he awaited trial for the deadly shooting, Fann was charged with soliciting to kill two witnesses to the homicide.
Fann offered an inmate at the county correctional facility $10,000 to kill the witnesses and a “throw-away” gun to do the killing. Fann typed his plan in a letter because he didn’t want anything found in his own handwriting and provided a picture of one of the witnesses to the inmate who went to authorities with Fann’s intentions, according to prior court testimony and court records.
State police said they found the typed letter and other incriminating evidence to the plot to kill the witnesses in Fann’s jail cell on Dec. 22, 2008.
Augello sentenced Fann to life in prison for the homicide plus five to 40 years on attempting to hire a hit man to kill the witnesses.