HARRISBURG-- Rep. Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery) called on Gov. Tom Wolf to reverse his decision to grant a reprieve from the death penalty to convicted murderer Hubert L. Michael Jr.
Stephens made his comments after a House Judiciary Committee hearing passed House Resolution 143
condemning Gov. Tom Wolf's action to declare a moratorium on capital punishment in Pennsylvania. The resolution called on Wolf to reverse this action and to carry out his constitutional duty.
“Gov. Wolf has decided to circumvent the judiciary process, to ignore the findings of the courts and the murderer’s guilty plea, and to prolong the pain of a family seeking justice for their loved one,” Stephens said.
In February, Wolf imposed a moratorium on the death penalty in Pennsylvania as he awaits the findings of a task force studying the issue.
Michael has been sentenced to death for the 1993 rape and murder of 16-year-old Trista Eng near Dillsburg in York County. He was scheduled to be executed June 5. Michael was out on bail for an unrelated rape charge in Lancaster County at the time of the murder.
Michael also once escaped prison. “This is proof that Michael remains a threat even behind bars,” Stephens said.
Michael, who was living in a boarding house in Lemoyne at the time, picked Eng up as she walked to work at the Dillsburg Hardee's on Route 15. He drove her to a remote area of State Game Lands 242 and shot her three times with a .44 magnum.
Stephens met with Eng’s family earlier this year following their testimony at a House Judiciary Committee Hearing on Wolf’s decision to halt executions.
“This case is clear cut,” Stephens said. “Michael has never denied kidnapping Eng as she walked to her summer job, shooting her three times and hiding her body in the woods. Worse, in the 22 years since the murder, Michael has never accepted full responsibility for raping Eng before killing her.”
Michael admitted in his guilty plea that he killed Eng because he was angry about a pending rape case in Lancaster County and wanted to take his anger out on a woman and has exhausted all his appeals.
“What makes this even more frustrating is Gov. Wolf has not alleged any problems with the way the case was handled or with other specific findings in this case,” Stephens said. “This reprieve makes a mockery of the justice system. It is postponing justice and extending the pain of a family that has suffered too long.”
Representative Todd Stephens
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: David Foster