Who’s on death row in York County murders?


November  21,  2017

There are nearly 200 people on death row in Pennsylvania. Thirteen of them — all men — were convicted and sentenced to death for murders committed in York County.

One currently is awaiting a resentencing hearing, another is awaiting a new trial.

Since 1985, Pennsylvania governors have signed hundreds of execution warrants.

Three executions have been carried out — two in 1995 and one in 1999– since a 10-year national moratorium on the death penalty ended in 1977.

Gov. Tom Wolf put a moratorium on the death penalty in 2015 citing a need for further study.

York County death row inmates, who all are housed at the maximum security prison in Greene County, are:

·Paul Gamboa-Taylor

Gamboa-Taylor was sentenced Jan. 23, 1992, after pleading guilty to the May 18, 1991, hammer slayingsof four family members: his wife, Valeria L. Gamboa-Taylor; their two children, Paul, 4, and Jasmine, 2; and another child, Lance Barshinger, 2.

He received a life sentence for killing his mother-in-law, Donna M. Barshinger.

·Hubert Lester Michael Jr.

Michael was sentenced March 20, 1995, after pleading guilty to the July 12, 1993, abduction and shooting death of 16-year-old Trista Elizabeth Eng in the Dillsburg area.

Michael unsuccessfully attempted to withdraw his guilty plea. Execution warrants were signed in 1996 by Gov. Tom Ridge and 2004 by Gov. Ed Rendell.

·Mark Newton Spotz 

Spotz was sentenced April 24, 1996, for the Feb. 2, 1995, shooting death of Penny Gunnet, 41, of New Salem.

Gunnet was his third victim in a four-day crime spree through central and eastern Pennsylvania.

Spotz also received death sentences for the murders of June Rose Ohlinger of Schuylkill County, and Betty Amstutz, 71, of Cumberland County.

An execution warrant for the York County conviction was signed by Ridge in 2001. He received a stay in the Gunnet murder in 2001.

·John Amos Small 

Small was sentenced June 19, 1996, after being convicted of murder and attempted rape of 17-year-old Cheryl Smith.

Smith’s body was found in West Manheim Township in 1981.

Execution warrants were signed in 2001 by Ridge and in 2009 by Rendell.

·Kevin Brian Dowling

Dowling was sentenced Dec. 14, 1998, for the Oct. 20, 1997, shooting death of Jennifer Lynn Myers inside her art and frame shop just outside Spring Grove.

An execution warrant was signed in 2007 by Rendell.

·Milton and Noel Montalvo

Milton was sentenced Feb. 14, 2000, and Noel was sentenced April 14, 2003, for the April 19, 1998, stabbing deaths of Miriam Asencio-Cruz and Manuel Ramirez Santana inside Cruz’s York apartment.

Rendell signed an execution warrant for Noel Montalvo in July 2010 and signed one for Milton in January 2011. Milton Montalvo is awaiting a resentencing hearing

·Harve Lamar Johnson

Johnson was sentenced Nov. 16, 2009, for the April 7, 2008, beating death of 2-year-old Darisabel Baez, his girlfriend’s daughter, in York.

·Kevin Edward Mattison

Mattison was sentenced Dec. 17, 2010, for the Dec. 9, 2008, robbery and shooting of Christian Agosto in York.

Mattison had previously been convicted of third-degree murder and served prison time in Maryland.

·Hector Morales

Morales was sentenced Jan. 21, 2011, for the 2009 shooting death of Ronald “Country” Simmons Jr.

Police said Morales broke into Simmons’ York home and shot him six times because Simmons was set to testify in a drug case.

·Aric Shayne Woodard

Woodard was sentenced to death Dec. 18, 2013, for the Nov. 7, 2011, beating death of 2-year-old Jaques Omari Twinn.

·Timothy Matthew Jacoby

Jacoby was sentenced to death Oct. 9, 2014, for the March 31, 2010, shooting death of Monica Schmeyer, 55, while he burglarized her West Manheim Township home.

·Also of note

Daniel Jacobs was sentenced to death Sept. 18, 1992, for the Feb. 10, 1992, stabbing death of his girlfriend, Tammy Lee Mock of York, and life in prison for the drowning of their 7-month-old daughter, Holly Danielle Jacobs.

Federal courts overturned Jacobs’ conviction and death penalty for Mock’s murder in 2005, ruling his jury should have been informed his mental deficiencies might not have allowed him to form the specific intent to kill Mock.

While Jacobs continues to serve a life sentence for Holly’s death, he will stand for re-trial in 2016 for Mock’s murder. The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections still lists him as a death row inmate.

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