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New trial ordered in 1997 York County slaying of art gallery owner

A Lebanon County judge last month ruled that Kevin Dowling merited a new trial in the October 1997 slaying of Jennifer Myers near Spring Grove.
Credit: wpmt

YORK, Pa. — A new trial has been ordered for a man sentenced to death in the murder almost a quarter-century ago of a Pennsylvania art gallery owner who was preparing to testify against him.

A Lebanon County judge last month ruled that now-63-year-old Kevin Dowling of East Petersburg merited a new trial in the October 1997 slaying of 43-year-old Jennifer Myers near Spring Grove in West Manchester Township. Prosecutors said she had been expected to testify that he sexually assaulted and robbed her a year earlier.

Senior Judge Robert Eby cited failure of a defense attorney to provide effective assistance and of prosecutors to turn over exculpatory evidence. A woman had testified that she saw Dowling in a Spring Lake parking lot shorty before Myers was shot three times, but Eby said he was at a Lancaster County lake at the time.

A state trooper testified in 1998 that a store receipt the witness provided had an incorrect timestamp because the register's clock was 20 minutes slow, but expert witnesses for the defense and the commonwealth agreed that the timestamp was accurate, Eby said.

Dowling was convicted of first-degree murder in 1998 and sentenced to death. He was also convicted of having robbed and assaulted Myers in 1996 and was sentenced to nine to 18 years in prison. An assistant federal defender now representing Dowling declined comment, the York Daily Record reported.

Former York County First Assistant District Attorney Tom Kelley, who prosecuted the case, asked for a copy of the opinion and said “we never didn’t disclose anything.” A spokesperson for the state attorney general's office said “We respectfully disagree with the conclusion reached by the court and plan to appeal.”

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