YORK COUNTY, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed Joseph Fitzpatrick’s judgment of sentence Tuesday to life imprisonment for the first-degree murder of his wife.
Fitzpatrick was sentenced to life in prison without parole in May 2015. In September of that year, an acquittal was granted, but was then appealed by the state to the Superior Court.
The latest appeal by Fitzpatrick claimed that he was denied rights granted to him by the U.S. Constitution and PA Constitution when inadmissible hearsay, in the form of a note and email from Fitzpatrick’s deceased wife, was admitted into evidence.
The Superior Court, citing prior court cases, found that the note was admissible because it established the victim’s then-existing belief. The email, however, was hearsay because it did not relate to the victim’s then existing state of mind.
The Superior Court concluded in the opinion that the email admitted into evidence was “harmless error in light of the overwhelming evidence against Fitzpatrick.”