- Associated Press - Thursday, September 18, 2014

READING, Pa. (AP) - An eastern Pennsylvania judge has granted a new trial to a man sentenced to death in the murder of a friend 8½ years ago.

Bryan Galvin, 49, of Reading was convicted of first-degree murder in Berks County in the January 2006 shooting death of Kristofer Kolesnik.

Judge Paul Yatron issued the ruling Monday after Galvin’s attorney argued that several jurors in the trial had discovered information about Galvin’s prior criminal history.

Witnesses testified that Galvin shot the Kolesnik, 32, in the head, wrapped up the body and put it in a van belonging to the victim’s fiancee and was on the way to dump the body in a remote area when police stopped him for driving without headlights.

The opinion said at least one member of the panel selected from Luzerne County researched the case during the trial, although jurors had been told not to do so, and found that Galvin had been acquitted of murder in an unrelated case. The juror also discovered and shared an assault on a sheriff’s deputy during jury selection in an earlier case, the judge said.

Yatron wrote that the information the panel learned would make it difficult for jurors to properly exercise their duties.

“A typical juror exposed to such information would be unavoidably concerned with the idea of acquitting a violent man - one who had killed before and who could possibly kill again,” his opinion said.

Defense attorney William Bispels Jr. praised the ruling, calling it the right decision for what he called “blatant” juror misconduct.

A representative of the state attorney general’s office declined comment, saying the office was still reviewing the opinion.

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Information from: Reading Eagle, https://www.readingeagle.com/

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