- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 5, 2015

KITTANNING, Pa. (AP) - The president judge of a western Pennsylvania county says a local district judge wrongly excluded news media from the arraignment of a jail escapee charged with killing a woman.

Armstrong County President Judge Kenneth Valasek says in a news release that Kittanning District Judge James Owen was wrong to not publicly explain why he closed Friday’s arraignment of 38-year-old Robert Edward Crissman. Crissman was arraigned secretly at the state police barracks in Kittanning after he was charged with homicide, escape and other crimes for leaving the county jail while on work-release Thursday.

He allegedly beat and strangled 55-year-old Tammy Long while free.

Valasek says judges can sometimes close arraignments for security or other concerns, but they must explain why publicly. Valasek says Owen freely acknowledged he didn’t do that.

Crissman’s preliminary hearing before Owen is Aug. 12.

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