Former Philipsburg Man Convicted of Murder Has a Chance for Release

CLEARFIELD – A former Philipsburg man convicted of murder in 1988 now has a chance for release.

Timothy Hanson, now 45, formerly of Philipsburg, was 15 years old when he shot and killed David Smith at Hanson’s home on Christmas Eve in 1987.

He was convicted of first-degree murder after a trial in June of 1988 and was sentenced to life in prison without parole, a sentence which since then has been deemed unconstitutional for juvenile offenders.

The cases against Hanson and two other juveniles serving life sentences without the possibility of parole have returned to Clearfield County for re-sentencing. In order to receive the same sentence, the Commonwealth has to prove that they cannot be rehabilitated.

During a hearing in December, Hanson’s case was discussed with several people who have worked with Hanson at a state prison testifying that Hanson has been rehabilitated.

Perhaps the most influential witness may have been David Smith’s son Dustin, who made a statement on behalf of his family.

He said they did not “wish to see him incarcerated any more.” He went on to say they wanted Hanson to be able to contribute to society and they believe he deserves a second chance.

The hearing continued Thursday and concluded with Senior Judge David E. Grine sentencing Hanson to 25 years to life in prison. He will receive credit for all the time he has served since Dec. 24, 1987, which is over 30 years.

Court records describing the original trial show that Hanson was at his home with his brother, Tom and Tom’s girlfriend, Betty Jo Wootan, when Smith came to the door.

Tom and Betty Jo testified that Tom opened the door for Smith and Tim loaded Tom’s shotgun. They said Tim then fired a single shot past Tom that killed Smith.

Tim Hanson testified that it was Tom, who shot Smith accidentally during a prank. Originally Tim Hanson told police he was trying to fix the gun when it fired accidentally.

Tom submitted to a test to see if he had recently fired a gun that proved inconclusive. Tim Hanson refused the test.


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