CLEARFIELD – The Superior Court of Pennsylvania has rendered its decision and affirmed the voluntary manslaughter conviction of Mark Spotz, announced Clearfield County District Attorney William A. Shaw Jr. today.
The “underlying facts” of the Spotz case, Shaw said, were that on Jan. 31, 1995, Spotz, who was on parole for a robbery conviction at the time, and his brother, Dustin, engaged in an argument at the home of their mother and step-father in Clearfield County.
According to Shaw, the argument started when Dustin’s fiancée’s teen-aged son placed a pet gerbil in front of Spotz’s face while he was watching television. As a result, Spotz started yelling at the child and threatening to physically harm him.
This upset Dustin and the argument escalated into a physical confrontation, during which Dustin stabbed Spotz twice in the upper back with a butter knife. Spotz was slightly wounded and threatened to kill Dustin.
Spotz proceeded to go upstairs and returned with a handgun. Spotz fired eight shots at Dustin, and two of them fatally struck Dustin in the chest. After Dustin fell to the ground, Spotz leaned over him and spit on his face. Spotz and his girlfriend then fled the residence.
After fleeing Clearfield County, Spotz subsequently committed three murders in Schuylkill, York and Cumberland counties between Feb. 1, 1995 and Feb. 3, 1995. On Feb. 3, 1995, police apprehended Spotz at a motel in Carlisle.
On Sep. 26, 1995, Spotz was convicted after a trial by jury on the charges of voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person, carrying a firearm without a license and former convict not to own a firearm.
On Oct. 17, 1995, Spotz was sentenced to an aggregate term of imprisonment of 17.5 to 35 years. Thereafter, Spotz was separately tried, convicted and sentenced to death for the three murders in Schuylkill, York, and Cumberland counties.
On Jan. 16, 1996, Spotz filed a petition for Post-Conviction Collateral Relief, seeking to overturn his convictions and receive a new trial. Spotz claimed ineffective assistance of trial counsel in the Clearfield County case. After various appeals to both the Superior Court and Supreme Court, a hearing was held on the Spotz petition for Post-Conviction Collateral Relief, and on March 31, 2010, Clearfield County President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman denied Spotz’s petition for Post-Conviction Collateral Relief.
Spotz appealed Ammerman’s decision and on March 26, 2012, the Superior Court granted Spotz relief on his claim. Spotz claimed that trial counsel was ineffective in failing to object to portions of the prosecutor’s cross-examination of him, as well as the prosecutor’s closing argument, on the grounds that they included impermissible and prejudicial references to Spotz’s post-arrest silence. The Superior Court, without deciding the remaining issues, reversed Spotz’s judgment of sentence and remanded for a new trial.
The Clearfield County District Attorney’s Office appealed the Superior Court’s decision, and on Jan. 17, 2014, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania reversed the Superior Court’s decision and remanded for resolution of the remaining unresolved issues. Thereafter, on Friday, the Superior Court then affirmed the decision of Ammerman, which denied Spotz’s petition and affirmed Spotz’s convictions.
Shaw stated that the District Attorney’s Office has been litigating this case for more than eight years, and he’s extremely pleased with the decision of the Superior Court. Shaw stated that victims deserve closure in these types of cases, and he hopes that Spotz has exhausted all available appeals.
Anyone with knowledge of a crime is asked to call Clearfield County Crime Stoppers at 800-376-4700. All calls to Crime Stoppers are confidential.
Anonymous tips can also be submitted by visiting the Clearfield County District Attorney Web site at “www.ClearfieldDA.org” and selecting “Report A Crime.”