innocence blog

A Web log for the Innocence Institute of Point Park University

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Former Pa. death row inmate freed from prison

This article appeared on CentreDaily.com on October 18, 2006:

Former Pa. death row inmate freed from prison

Associated Press

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - A former death row inmate accused of setting a house fire that killed his three sons was freed from prison after entering a plea Wednesday to three counts of third-degree murder.

Dennis Counterman, 46, who spent a decade on death row before his conviction was overturned by a Lehigh County judge in August 2001, entered an Alford plea, in which he did not admit wrongdoing but acknowledged that prosecutors would likely win conviction at trial.

Judge Lawrence J. Brenner sentenced Counterman to nine to 18 years in prison, plus five years of probation. Because he has already served more than the maximum sentence, Counterman was immediately released, and walked out of the courthouse with his friends and family.

Brenner had earlier ruled that prosecutors withheld key information from Counterman's lawyers during his 1990 trial. Prosecutors continued to insist that Counterman started the fire on July 25, 1988, in his Allentown home that killed Christopher, 6, James, 4, and 10-week-old Scott.




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