SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – A man who’s already been convicted and sentenced to death three times in Lackawanna County is fighting to get a fourth trial.
A court hearing is now planned next month in the case against David Chmiel.
A Lackawanna County judge has scheduled an evidentiary hearing for Monday, June 11, 2018.
While David Chmiel has won appeals before, this time, he’s arguing his latest conviction was based on faulty hair analysis evidence presented at his most recent trial.
David Chmiel has been in-and-out of courtrooms for roughly 35 years now.
In 1983, police believe he killed three siblings, James Lunairo, his brother Victor and sister Angelia, inside a home in Throop.
Chmiel has already been convicted of the fatal stabbings three times before in 1984, 1995 and 2002.
Two of those convictions were overturned and now the Pennsylvania Supreme Court says Chmiel should have the opportunity to argue before a Lackawanna County judge for a fourth trial.
It all boils down to forensic testimony of hair linking Chmiel to the crime scene.
In 2015, the FBI said some of its testimony on microscopic hair analysis contained errors.
While the FBI didn’t work on Chmiel’s case, he claims the FBI trained Pennsylvania State Police and that raises questions about their work.
In new court documents just filed last week, George Surma, the retired state police lab employee involved in Chmiel’s case provided a hand-written statement about his work.
Surma wrote, “The FBI protocol for microscopy was the gold standard. The Pennsylvania State police laboratory followed those protocols, as I did in my work on Mr. Chmiel’s case.”
The possibility of David Chmiel getting a fourth trial will be an uphill battle.
A Lackawanna County judge has scheduled a hearing for June 11 to take testimony on the matter.
In order to get another trial, David Chmiel would have to prove that the hair analysis from his latest trial was compromised and it played a significant role in his conviction.
Judge Terrence Nealon scheduled next month’s evidentiary hearing.
By next week, lawyers for both sides have to exchange the names of all the witnesses they plan to call at the hearing in June.
By the end of May, both sides also have to file paperwork supporting their respective positions in the matter.