Mistrial In Death Penalty Case After County Detective Gives False Testimony

court

A Beaver County Judge has declared a mistrial in the capital murder trial for two step-brothers accused of the April 2012 death of Daniel Santia from Hopewell Township. The mistrial came after Beaver County President Judge John McBridge determined that a detective in the case had provided false testimony during the trial.

The trial for Joseph Michael Arlott and Beau William Chermer began on Tuesday after a week-long jury selection process in the case. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against the two men, who they say tortured eighty-two year old Daniel Joseph Santia of Hopewell Township during a robbery. Santia died three weeks following the attack.

President Judge John D. McBride declared the mistrial early this morning in response to motions made by defense attorneys in the case. The controversy surrounds testimony given by Detective Robert Chamberlain yesterday. Chamberlain testified about a long series of photographs he said he had taken of the victim approximately two weeks following the attack.

Chamberlain’s testimony about exactly when the photos were taken became uncertain during cross examination, after it became clear that the victim in the case had already been released from the hospital on the date provided by the detective. Detective Chamberlain said he had not written a report about photographing the victim.

Defense Attorneys had raised an objection during Detective Chamberlain’s testimony yesterday, telling the judge at sidebar that the photographs should not be admitted because of uncertainty surrounding the date they were taken. Judge McBride overruled that objection, and allowed the photographs to be entered into evidence.

But early this morning, Assistant District Attorney Frank Martocci notified Judge McBride that Chamberlain had not actually taken the photographs, and the detective’s testimony about the evidence was mistaken. The photographs of the victim had actually been taken by Hopewell Township Detective Greg Durkos, and they had been taken the day after the assault, not two weeks later.

“My biggest concern was that the jury thought Mr. Santia was still in that bad of a condition two weeks later,” said Assisistant Public Defender Kevin Kindred, who is representing Joseph Arlott. “His hands were still swollen in those photographs and from the medical reports that we have, Mr. Santia had recovered from all of his injuries by two weeks after the attack.”

Following an autopsy by Dr. James Smith, Beaver County Coroner Teri Tatalovich-Rossi determined Santia died of blunt force trauma to the head and ruled his death a homicide. A report issued by forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht, who was hired as an expert by the defense, determined that Santia died of a heart attack not head trauma, and that his death was not a result of injuries he received during the robbery. Neither witnesses were called to testify before today’s mistrial was declared.

Multiple courthouse sources, including one within the District Attorney’s Office, have told the Beaver Countian that Detective Durkos had notified prosecutors about Chamberlain’s mistaken testimony while he was still on the stand yesterday, but the line of questioning by Assistant District Attorney Frank Martocci continued unabated.

Judge McBride ultimately declared a mistrial in the case, describing Detective Chamberlain’s testimony as “fabricated” when speaking with attorneys in chambers.

It is unclear if Detective Chamberlain had taken any other photographs of the victim which he confused with the ones presented in court. Based on motions filed before trial, it does not appear any other photographs were provided to the defense as part of the discovery process.

“I do not believe that the testimony was fabricated,” District Attorney Anthony Berosh told the Beaver Countian. Berosh declined to talk specifically about Detective Chamberlain’s testimony. “I can tell you this, my office is ready to retry this case, and that is what we are going to do.”

“This is a death penalty case,” said defense attorney Gerald Benyo, who represents Beau Chermer, after being told of District Attorney Berosh’s reaction. “Any conviction obtained by the prosecution must be free of any doubt, and the defense team is prepared to continue to defend this case vigorously.”

The case has been tentatively scheduled to be retried in March.

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Reader Comments:


Guest
1 year 5 months ago

Timothy Kay

Guest
1 year 5 months ago

Timothy Kay here it is

Guest
1 year 5 months ago

Fuck dis county proves to all u fucks the cops lie

Guest
Nikki P
1 year 5 months ago

Well, that didn’t take very long. Round two, ding ding…

Guest
1 year 5 months ago

if the autopsy says he died of a heart attack and not from a blunt force how can they try them for murder?

Guest
SpeakTheTruthToo
1 year 5 months ago

Because maybe Rosemary, he wouldn’t have had the damn heart attack if these 2 bozos didn’t beat the shit out of him and then torture him?

Guest
1 year 5 months ago

huge difference between “mistake” and outright lying.

Guest
1 year 5 months ago

BEAVER COUNTY JUSTICE AT IT’S BEST HELL THE POLICE DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT THE HELL THEY ARE DOING WHAT ELSE HAVE THEY SCREWED UP

Guest
J.d. Fordyce
1 year 5 months ago

Wow another case where a cop lied. I would never have guessed. Ha!

Guest
1 year 5 months ago

Wow a cop lying on the stand I’m shocked totally shocked Not once again the cesspool that is the Beaver County DA office gives us a winner

Guest
1 year 5 months ago

forget the da why isnt anyone outraged that 2 men who robbed and tortured a man into his grave and our system failed beacuse of one mans error. someone make Chamberlin accountable for this. we need to organize and demand his resignation aand then run him out of town on a rail.

Guest
ksmith
1 year 5 months ago

wow how in the hell does the DA let this happen ??? what a bunch of idiots !!!

Guest
1 year 5 months ago

A lying cop? Really?! This makes no sense. The cop working for the criminal. is Beaver County trying to catch up with Albany. Albany has the most corrupt legislature in the country. Beaver County seems like you’re trying to catch up.

Profile photo of Raven
Member
1 year 5 months ago

What is the next step for a new trial? Will the same jury be retained?

Guest
John Paul
1 year 5 months ago

When a mistrial is declared, the jury is released.  New notices will have to be sent out to a randomly chosen jury pool, and voir dire (the formal process by which potential jurors are questioned for suitability to serve in any given case) will have to take place to choose a new jury from scratch.

Guest
1 year 5 months ago

Beaver counties finest! We have way to many of them.

Guest
Homeboy
1 year 5 months ago

Hay Timothy Kay, wasn’t ur dad a cop in Industry I think he only had one tooth.

Guest
Nikki P
1 year 5 months ago

Not sure bout his daddy, but young mr kay up there DID plead guilty to killing a 3 year old last year in Ambridge.

Guest
1 year 5 months ago

Beaver County is a joke.The news said that it was because of the cops statement that caused the mistrial.So sad.Prayers go out

Guest
1 year 5 months ago

How much did this cost the taxpayers of beaver county?

Guest
John Paul
1 year 5 months ago

There are a lot of different factors involved, but based on my previous reporting I believe it’s safe to say this retrial will add tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of the case.Those who missed it the first time around may be interested in reading this:

In-Depth: A Defense To Die For? http://beavercountian.com/content/daily/beaver-county-death-penalty

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Raven
1 year 5 months ago

When a defense lawyer, in his opening remarks, told the jury that he was prone to “object” frequently, and that it was his “style” to make sure that the rules were followed,  I expected that there would be interruptions in the flow of the trial, but nothing like this. The timeline of events is critical in this trial. I can’t understand how this “error” could not have been foreseen and prevented, even as it was occurring. It seems so basic and avoidable.  

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SpeakTheTruthToo
1 year 5 months ago

If I was on that jury, I would immediately side with the prosecution based on the defense lawyer opening remarks. I wouldn’t need to pay attention to the rest of the trial. Arrogant lawyers should think twice before they make stupid remarks like that because I may be sitting on their jury one day.

Guest
SpeakTheTruthToo
1 year 5 months ago

Daniel Santia and the Santia family DESERVE JUSTICE! This is the most insane thing I have read today. Get your office together you joke of a DA! If you can’t get it together then rethink the charges before these 2 bozos walk away scott free.

Guest
Tiffany
1 year 5 months ago

@Rosemary wtf is your point exactly? He died of a heart attack I don’t know I’m not a Dr or anything like that but just gonna take a guess here he was BEAT and he’s in his 80’s that wouldn’t cause a heart attack no not At all. Some of these post are just disgusting I don’t understand how some people sleep at night. All I know is imagine that was your father or grandfather and you would see some of these asinine posts how would you feel. All I can say if that was my grandfather those scumbags wouldn’t have made it to a trial. What they did is awful those two pussy’s were too cowardly to try and rob people who would have been able to fight back. They deserve to be beat to death if you ask me eye for an eye. My heart goes out to the Santia family.

Guest
Thereasa
1 year 5 months ago

It seems like a lot of morons replying to this travesty, Except for Mike Fisher! An innocent man is dead because low life looser scumbags! Did anyone think that if his body wasnt fighting to keep him alive after being BEAT with a BAT his heart might not have failed! Instead of bashing the police and Da maybe you should be bashing Arlott & Chermer the animals that tortured an innocent man and then went for a joyride in his vehicle !!!! My prayers go out to the Santia family.

Guest
1 year 5 months ago

Who cares about the cost??? How would you all feel if Mr santia was your dad? I hope they get it right the next time. SO sad.

Guest
Rich vanus
1 year 5 months ago

Just do what needs to be done to get justice for this family . These scumbags went to this mans house with bad intention . As a result a family lost a cherished loved one. They are responsible for his death .

Guest
1 year 5 months ago

Anthony Bruno check this out.

Guest
weredareres
1 year 5 months ago

This is so very sad.  First the Santia family loses a cherished loved one, then the District Attorneys office doesn’t do their job.  I think they did not get their ducks in a row. Typical Beaver County. nothing done right everything done in a sloppy manner.

Guest
Truth be Told too
1 year 5 months ago

Okay few skumbags thought they could get some cash cause maybe certain family member said it was there

Then helpless old man who knows how the have goes had heart attack, santia want a pleasant saint sorry sat beside him at a dinner all he talked about was old days and what him and his co worker did allk day and how he was tied with former commissioners and bookies, doesn’t mean he should of been robbed but it didn’t meanthose kiss did either

Our district attorney better make a splash cause who that didn’t know his name before sure know it now clean up your house before your attempt someone else’s

Guest
SpeakTheTruthToo
1 year 5 months ago

I think the sorriest excuse for a grandson in history who told these 2 scumbags about the “money” should be held accountable for this incident. Why does that scumbag get to walk away scott free too?

Guest
SpeakTheTruthToo
1 year 5 months ago

Why was a county detective involved in this case at all? Why couldn’t Hopewell’s finest handle this? Come to think of it, why does no one in the Hopewell Police Department handle anything? They panic anytime a big case comes across 911 and call in members of other departments because they don’t know what to do. If I was a Hopewell taxpayer, I’d be demanding more of my police department.

Guest
SpeakTheTruthToo
1 year 5 months ago

Chamberlain needs to be disciplined for lying on the stand. Piece of garbage.

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bsmith
1 year 5 months ago

Does anyone really think that this douche bag Chamberlain will be disciplined.  Yes, he should lose his job, but look at the sheriff.  If he can get away without any disciplinary actions, don’t you think a lonely detective like Chamberlain will also be protected?  All corrupt individuals.  In Beaver County, if you know the right people, you can get away with anything.

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Mickey
1 year 5 months ago

i dont think Chamberlaind lied i just think hes a fuck up like most of rest of the DA office.  problem is we all know others lie and Tony B let them get away with it AINT THAT RIGHT JOHN JOE?  DA office cant be trusted!

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five-o
1 year 5 months ago

What does Chamberlain, John Joe, and George David have in common? They are all former Alighetto police officers. Coincidence? Think NOT! Birds of a feather flock together.

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Nikki P
1 year 5 months ago

What I don’t understand is, why would he lie about taking the photos, when he KNEW he didn’t take them, Hopewell did?That is the point that doesn’t make any sense. How do you NOT know what photos you take for a case? You would think, knowing that you would be called to testify, that you would “brush up” on the case, and the facts.

Guest
SpeakTheTruthToo
1 year 5 months ago

Unless he was trying to lose the case and set up an appeal for the scumbags to get off on technicality? Don’t know for sure. Just speculating. If that is the case, this is worse than I imagined.

Guest
Nikki P
1 year 5 months ago

sweet jesus, I didn’t even think of that, and I’m the conspiracy theorist…..

Guest
Raven
1 year 5 months ago

@SpeakTheTruthToo and Nikki P: I have to agree with you. I sat and observed the court proceedings for only the beginning two days, but it seemed to me that more is involved in the matter than the beating and robbery, although those are the focus of the charges. The actions of the accused seem extreme in proportion to the actual “purpose” of a beating and robbery. It seems as though they “overdid it”, and I have to wonder about the motivations and purposes involved. I sat in on the Gregory Scott Hopkins trial for most of it, and the rigorous, professional presentation of evidence and witnesses was impressive, from the blood, evidence items and DNA collection to the efforts by law enforcement and the defense and prosecution lawyers. This kind of “error” or “oversight” by Chamberlain seems very unlikely in light of that. This trial, by comparison, seems almost amateurish and lacking rigor and intensity, and involves some of the same people (prosecution lawyers). Things just don’t “fit” — a total house ransacked, and an elderly man beaten (almost, at the time) to death. The break-in attackers seem to have been looking for something more specific, more than just household money or jewelry, and it seems as though the elderly man was thought to have knowledge of it. Why drag him all over the house? And, it seems unlikely that they were just “passing by” and broke into a house at random. I’m just guessing, but I personally would not rule out someone trying to sabotage the trial, for whatever reason, because the two suspects have already confessed to the crimes.  

Guest
albatross
1 year 5 months ago

What everyone seems to be missing (and Lord knows I’m not defending these monsters) is the fact they were denied mitigation expenses TWICE.
 
http://beavercountian.com/content/daily/beaver-county-death-penalty

If anyone here were accused of a crime, we would rely on the presumption of innocence.  This would most certainly include mitigation expenses.

McBride has denied such expense not once but twice.  Now he has declared a mistrial. This is why the judicial system is flawed in more ways that one, especially in Beaver County.  

Like everything from bad judgment/wrong doing in the Sheriff’s office to political wrong doing is let slide in this county. If you can’t AFFORD an attorney in Beaver County the glove does fit, and you must NOT Acquit! Child molesters, wife abusers, animal abusers, multiple DUI offenders, corrupt law enforcement officers and wife killers will do the minimum, as long as they can afford representation.

McBride needs to go.  His track record speaks for itself.

Guest
Jack
1 year 5 months ago

Hey Tim, how’d that deployment issue work out?

Guest
johnnytellitlikeitis
1 year 4 months ago

hmmm… If this were an 82 year old black man and there was a mistrial… It would be national news, riots, and whining and crying by every black organization.  We’d be listening to Al Sharpton’s big mouth.  Being that it’s an 82 year old Italian man who was the victim, this most likely won’t make it past local news.  Where are you at Italian Americans? 

Guest
The Thin Blue Line
1 year 4 months ago

Wow there is a big difference between lying and forgetting something. I know Chamberlian would get on the stand and outright lie. It was a simple mistake, which we all make. I have known Chamberlian for years and he he would never lie to anyone. He is an upstanding person and police officer.