The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

July 18, 2013

Superior Court denies ineffectiveness claim

A man who claimed his attorney goaded him into a guilty plea that resulted in a prison sentence failed to convince Superior Court that he had suffered any injustice.

By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer

SHARON — A man who claimed his attorney goaded him into a guilty plea that resulted in a prison sentence failed to convince Superior Court that he had suffered any injustice.

Christopher R. Troyer, 47, formerly of Sharon, Masury and New Castle, pleaded guilty to fleeing police, reckless endangerment and driving under suspension stemming from a July 26, 2009, chase through three Mercer County municipalities into Ohio, where he crashed his pickup, ran and had to be subdued by force.

During the chase, which started when a Sharon patrolman tried to pull him over for a traffic violation, Troyer tried to hit a cruiser and tried to force another against a curb, police said.

He was sentenced to 27 to 54 months in prison.

A direct appeal was denied last year and Troyer filed a petition under the Post Conviction Relief Act challenging the competency of the Mercer County Public Defender’s Office.

Troyer said his attorney “promised” that he would receive probation, and his plea was not knowing, voluntary and intelligent because he did not understand the maximum sentence he could receive.

Mercer County Common Pleas Court Judge Robert G. Yeatts denied the petition, which set the stage for the appeal to Superior Court.

Troyer appears to have been asked the standard questions at his plea hearing about his understanding of the proceeding, the range of sentences he could receive, his attorney’s effectiveness and whether he had been threatened to enter the plea.

“(W)e conclude that the counsel did not cause Troyer to involuntarily tender his guilty plea by failing to inform Troyer that his plea bargain did not guarantee a probationary sentence,” Judge John L. Musmanno said in an opinion for a three-judge panel filed Wednesday.

Troyer pleaded guilty in Trumbull County to a charge of failing to comply with an order of a policeman and was sentenced to one year in prison.