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By MARCIE SCHELLHAMMER Era Associate Editor www.bradfordera.com
A hearing is scheduled for Friday in McKean County Court on a petition from confessed murderer Thomas Haggie, who is alleging he was induced by his attorney to plead guilty to murdering Megan Konopka in 2009. Haggie, 32, who is currently serving two life terms in state prison, filed a Post Conviction Relief Act petition in October, acting on his own behalf without the aid of an attorney. He is asking to have his sentence vacated and for a new trial to be awarded. He also asked to have an attorney appointed to represent him in the matter. In November, Judge John Pavlock appointed attorney Greg Henry to the case, and directed him to file an amended petition within 30 days. However, after reviewing Haggie’s allegations made in his petition, Henry filed a motion to withdraw as PCRA counsel, saying Haggie did not raise any claims of merit in his petition. The hearing, set for 9 a.m. Friday, will be on both Henry’s motion to withdraw and on Haggie’s PCRA petition.
Haggie’s petition alleged he is eligible for PCRA relief for several reasons: A violation of the Constitution at trial undermined the truth determining process so no reliable adjudication of guilt or innocence could take place; ineffective counsel; an unlawfully induced guilty plea; a sentence greater than the lawful maximum; and a proceeding in a tribunal without jurisdiction. Haggie had pleaded guilty to two counts of homicide in December 2010. However, in his petition, he seems to be arguing that the judge in the case — Pavlock — found him guilty of the charges, and alleged that should have been left to a jury. In the petition, he argued that his attorney, Gary Knaresboro — although he was represented by both Knaresboro and attorney Mike Marshall at trial — failed to raise a claim of self defense in the case, and failed to challenge his sentence of life imprisonment for the killing of Konopka’s unborn child. Haggie claimed that Konopka’s fetus was a “nonperson for purposes of the penal code,” and therefore, he should not have received a life sentence for killing the unborn child, according to the petition. Haggie’s claim of self defense is not that he killed Konopka in
self defense, but rather that he was trying to protect his own life from his co-defendant, Greggory Theobald. However, Haggie referred to him as Alan Theobald in the petition. The allegations Haggie raised in the petition were never mentioned during the course of the criminal cases against Theobald or Haggie. The petition alleged that Theobald was the aggressor in the murder, and alleged that Haggie didn’t take part, but was trying to fight off Theobald. Throughout the course of the investigation and in both criminal cases, both men’s confessions showed that Haggie was the aggressor, according to court proceedings. In the petition, Haggie stated that he would present supporting evidence and testimony at the hearing, but did not describe what evidence he might have to support his claims. On Sunday, District Attorney Ray Learn said he will file an answer to the petition this week. The charges stem from the Sept. 12, 2009 murder of Konopka, who was 21 years old and more than 38 weeks pregnant at the time of her death. The murder took place in a room Haggie had rented at the Riddell House in Bradford. According to previous testimony, Haggie and Theobald choked her; Haggie then stabbed her and left her to die on the floor of the room. Haggie took pictures of Konopka with his cell phone, and sent them to a friend in California, telling her he had killed a woman in Bradford. The friend called Bradford City Police, and sent them the pictures she had received from Haggie. Police recognized the Riddell House in the photos, and went there to check to see if someone needed assistance. They found Konopka’s body in Haggie’s room. Theobald and Haggie were the last ones seen with Konopka. Theobald was picked up Sept. 13, 2009, at a Congress Street residence, and Haggie was arrested a day later in Elmira, N.Y.