A Manheim man serving a life sentence for killing his pregnant girlfriend six years ago will not get a new trial, according to a Lancaster County judge’s ruling.
Matthew Scott Becker was convicted in 2013 of first-degree murder and murder of an unborn child for shooting 21-year-old Allison Walsh in the head at his parents’ home on North Colebrook Road.
Becker, now 27, was sentenced to life in prison, plus 20 to 40 years.
Lancaster County Judge James Cullen recently denied Becker’s request for relief, which was based largely on claims that his trial lawyers were ineffective.
Becker, in his motion, claimed the following improprieties:
- Becker should have been called, by his lawyers, to testify at trial;
- Becker’s lawyers should have raised additional challenges to the admissibility of Becker’s statements to police;
- The trial judge should have given jurors specific instructions before they deliberated the case;
- Becker’s lawyers should have objected to certain testimony offered by a police officer and the forensic pathologist who conducted the autopsy.
Judge Cullen found those arguments to be without merit and provided these supporting explanations:
- Becker’s trial attorney testified that Becker’s temperament could have been viewed by the jury as “unattractive,” in that he could become angry when cross-examined.
“His temper would come out,” the attorney testified at a recent proceeding.
- Becker’s statements were obtained properly by police who advised him of his right to remain silent before each interview. Becker never asked to contact an attorney. His mother had an attorney go to the police station during an interview; however, Judge Cullen ruled, only Becker himself could express desire to have an attorney present.
- Regarding jury instructions, Cullen called the trial judge’s failure to not read an instruction regarding Becker’s prior bad acts a “harmless error” that did not sway the verdict.
At trial, Assistant District Attorney Mark Fetterman presented evidence that Becker previously threatened and verbally abused Walsh, and that he shot an ex-girlfriend with a BB gun.
Assistant District Attorney Travis S. Anderson represented the Commonwealth in the post-conviction proceeding.
MEDIA CONTACT: Brett A. Hambright, 717-295-2041; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @BrettHambright