There is an interesting criminal appeal filed in Pennsylvania by a convicted murderer Robert Urwin Jr., 58 who has serious reservations about the judge who presided at his trial. He should know. Former Washington County Common Pleas Judge Paul Pozonsky was later sentenced in the same courthouse for stealing cocaine from the evidence room and replacing it with baking soda.
Pozonsky later moved to Alaska but was brought back. What is astonishing is that he was given a plea bargain of just three misdemeanors: charges of theft; obstruction of justice and misapplying entrusted government property. The only felony charge was for a conflict of interest. So a judge allegedly steals cocaine, destroys evidence, hides the crime, and uses cocaine in court and the prosecutors give him a plea down to misdemeanors?
Now, Urwin is saying that he would have preferred a non-coke head for a judge — not an unreasonable expectation. His attorney Brian Geiger wrote that “It is very likely Pozonsky was using cocaine in his chambers during work hours and while deciding to convict Robert Urwin.”
That however may not be as easy as one would expect. Usually the courts look at the transcript for evidence that the judge was impaired. Obviously if there was evidence that Pozonsky, 59, was incapacitated on the bench during this period, a stronger case could be made. Cocaine use alone however does not mean that someone is incapacitated 24-7.
The case against Urwin was a strong one. He murdered Mary Irene Gency, 16, on Feb. 13, 1977. She and Urwin dated for nearly two years. She was found naked with a crushed skull in a field. She was also pregnant.
Also arrested for the crime was David Bernard Davoli, 57, who testified that he and Urwin were driving around drinking and smoking marijuana hen they picked up Gency and drove to the Charleroi High School parking lot to roll joints. After Urwin and Gency had an argument, Urwin punched her and they then drove to an area where they both had sex with Gency in the vehicle prior to Urwin pulling her out of the car. Davoli says that Urwin then beat her and dragged her from the car. What is interesting that that the charges against Davoli were dropped for insufficient evidence but he later pleaded guilty to hindering apprehension and tampering with physical evidence. Tampering is what Pozonsky was originally charged with and, you guessed it, he was the judge who sentenced Davoli to 2 to 4 years in prison, followed by two years of state probation. Again a remarkably low sentence given the murder of a pregnant woman. Yet, he did cooperate against Polonsky who was convicted by Pozonsky of third-degree murder and criminal homicide and sentenced him to serve 10 to 20 years in prison. During this period, Polonsky himself was allegedly stealing cocaine from the evidence room and substituting baking powder.
Second-degree misdemeanors carry a maximum sentence of one to two years confinement and a $5,000 fine. However, not only have the prosecutors dropped three charges of conflict of interest, a felony, theft and drug possession, but they have agreed not to ask for any jail time. None.
Visiting Judge Daniel Howsare of Bedford County accepted that unbelievably generous deal and will sentence Mr. Pozonsky, who lives in Alaska, on July 13th.
The case for a retrial will be difficult for Urwin, though given the virtual walk granted to Pozonsky, anything seems possible in the Pennsylvania criminal justice system.