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Woman who killed husband nixes appeal

Rich Cholodofsky

An East Pittsburgh woman who is serving a 10-year-minimum sentence for killing her husband on the couple’s 25th wedding anniversary has dropped her request for a shorter sentence.

Deborah Shawley, 47, on Thursday told Westmoreland County Judge Al Bell that she no longer wanted to proceed with her appeal.

Shawley in September 2008 pleaded guilty but mentally ill to third-degree murder for the Oct. 23, 2007, stabbing death of her estranged husband, Robert, in the Trafford home they once shared.

A condition of the plea bargain called for Shawley to receive a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison. Her minimum of 10 years was set by Westmoreland County Judge Richard E. McCormick Jr.

Shawley, in court documents, contended she wanted a new sentence because her defense lawyer did not present evidence in 2008 that her husband provoked her to kill him.

“The deceased was having me stalked,” Shawley wrote. “He mentally abused me. I believe he wanted me dead.”

But in court yesterday, Shawley withdrew the appeal on the advice of her new lawyer, Jeremy Boby, who said her claims were without merit.

Shawley admitted in court that she stabbed her 52-year-old husband while visiting his home and then left him to die as she walked to her sister’s home in North Huntingdon, where she was arrested.

Robert Shawley died from a single stab wound to his chest and right shoulder, according to an autopsy report.

Before he lost consciousness, Robert Shawley was able to call 911 and tell emergency dispatchers his estranged wife had stabbed him.

Until her appeal, Deborah Shawley had never offered any motive for her actions.

She was originally charged with first-degree murder but was allowed to plead guilty to a lesser offense in part because she had a long history of mental illness and alcoholism, according to Assistant District Attorney Judy Petrush.


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