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Man convicted of killing bystander at Lancaster bar in 2014 won't get new trial

Lamar Clark was convicted of killing one man and wounding two others at Shenk's Cafe. A Lancaster County judge denied his arguments for a new trial
Credit: Lancaster County District Attorney's Office
Lamar Clark

LANCASTER, Pa. — A Lancaster man currently serving up to 81 years in prison for opening fire at an East Chestnut Street bar in 2014, killing a bystander, was denied a request for a new trial by a Lancaster County judge, according to the Lancaster County District Attorney's Office.

Lamar Clark, 33, was convicted of the 2014 killing of 54-year-old Barry Diffenderfer and the wounding two others. Clark, who fired five shots at Shenk's Cafe on East Chestnut Street, was found guilty of third-degree murder and related charges and was sentenced to 38½ to 81 years in prison.

In his post-conviction motion, Clark argued a number of things, all of which Judge Spahn found to be without merit, according to the DA.

Clark argued: 

1. His trial attorney did not properly prepare or question defense witness, Joshua Welsh. Welsh, who was at Shenk’s, testified to several things that contradicted other witnesses inside the bar, the DA's office said. Assistant District Attorney Mark Fetterman discredited Welsh’s testimony in cross-examination and closing argument.

2. His trial attorney should have asked that the jury consider an involuntary manslaughter conviction. Clark’s trial lawyer claimed such an instruction did not fit the defense strategy that Clark opened fire in self-defense. 

3. He should have been able to testify at trial. Clark’s trial lawyer claimed he advised Clark not to testify because cross-examination would have revealed Clark smoked PCP on the day of the shooting. 

RELATED: One man charged in triple shooting at Shenk’s Cafe in Lancaster

Clark was involved in another inmate’s appeal that also was recently denied by a Lancaster County Judge, according to the DA's office. Clark provided a signed affidavit saying it was he who shot a man in Lancaster city in 2003 – not his friend, Kalvin McCollough, who was convicted and is serving decades for the crimes, the DA's office said.

RELATED: DA: Judge rejects inmate’s ‘confession,’ which was intended to clear his friend in 2003 Lancaster shooting

Clark and McCullough believed – mistakenly - that if the attempted murder charge fell on Clark the statute of limitations would have expired by now and neither man could be sentenced for the crime, according to the DA's office.

A Lancaster County Judge rejected McCullough’s request, finding his claim “at worst, may amount to perjury.” 

McCullough is serving 38 to 76 years.