PITTSBURGH – A western Pennsylvania man in prison for more than two decades for a 1977 double murder can be released on bond while he awaits a retrial, a federal judge ruled Friday.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Lisa Lenihan approved David Munchinski's request for bail on condition he live with his daughter near Tampa, Fla.
Munchinski has been in prison since he was convicted in 1986 in the killings of James Alford and Raymond Tierce in Bears Rock, Fayette County, a rural community full of expensive A-frame homes.
Lenihan wrote in an opinion last month that the "outrageous misconduct" of prosecutors during previous trials "casts a pall of doubt over every single piece of evidence presented by the prosecution in support of its case."
Defense attorney Noah Geary said Munchinski, 59, could be released as soon as Friday afternoon, after he returns to a state prison in Pittsburgh for processing.
Deputy Attorney General Greg Simatic said he has no immediate plans to appeal Lenihan' s decision to release Munchinski the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
"This was not an entirely unexpected outcome today," Simatic said.
Lenihan had ordered Munchinski be retried within 120 days, but his retrial is on hold while prosecutors appeal her order for a new trial to the 3rd Circuit.
The two prosecutors who won Munchinski's conviction are now Fayette County judges. Geary, the defense attorney, said he doesn't believe there will be a retrial, because a central witness is dead and he contends his testimony was perjured, anyway.
Munchinski's daughter, Rania Tousey of New Port Richey, Fla., said she was ecstatic over her father's impending release.
"You know what, I'm so happy right now, I'm having a hard time putting it into words," she said. "This is the day that we have been waiting for and I can't wait to take my dad home."