Michael
Michael

Death-row murderer Hubert Lester Michael Jr. will likely be facing a new execution date soon for murdering 16-year-old Trista Eng in 1993.

The U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday lifted the stay it had granted Michael, 57, formerly of Lemoyne, just hours before his scheduled execution on Nov. 8, 2012.

When granting the stay, the appeals court returned the case to U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III in Harrisburg, asking him to explain why he denied the killer's request to keep fighting his death sentence.

Jones wrote in his order denying Michael a stay: "Over 19 years after the heinous murder the petitioner has admitted committing, it is time to draw this affair to a close."

Trista Eng
Trista Eng

Also Monday, the 3rd Circuit upheld Jones' decision, noting Michael "has not demonstrated extraordinary circumstances" that would justify allowing him to appeal.

The murder: Michael told his former defense attorney, York County chief public defender Bruce Blocher, he offered Trista a ride as she was walking to her job at Hardee's in Dillsburg on July 12, 1993.

The Franklin Township teen accepted his offer.

At some point during the ride, Michael stopped the car and used the electrical cords to tie up Trista, then drove her to state game lands in Warrington Township, according to Blocher.

He raped her, put a bag over her head and shot her three times, Blocher has said, then hid her body in a wooded area.


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Blocher revealed details of Michael's confession when called to the stand during a 1997 appeals hearing in the case.

Michael fled the state 10 days later. At the time, he was free on bail for a Lancaster County rape charge.

Captured: He was captured July 27, 1993, in Utah. Police found the murder weapon in the car he was using, officials said.

He was charged with homicide in late August 1993, after Trista's body was found by his own family members. Michael had confessed the murder to his brother.

In November 1993, Michael escaped from Lancaster County Prison but was captured in New Orleans in March 1994, according to the Department of Corrections. He was later sentenced to 10 to 20 years for the Lancaster County rape, according to court records.

He pleaded guilty to first-degree murder for killing Trista and was sentenced to death.

Death warrants: In all, Pennsylvania governors have signed death warrants for Michael three times. The first two were in 1996 and 2004. Both times, his execution was stayed.

For years, Michael maintained he wanted to die, but he changed his mind in 2004, just days before his scheduled execution.

His attorneys argue he was not mentally competent when he pleaded guilty to first-degree murder on Oct. 11, 1994, and didn't challenge his death sentence.

They've also said Michael suffered from mental-health issues while he was held in Graterford state prison, but that those issues improved when he was transferred to Greene state prison.

Fighting to live: Now that his mental health has improved, Michael is fighting his death sentence, they have said.

Michael is represented by the Federal Community Defender Office in Philadelphia. Attorneys there could not be reached for comment.

Susan McNaughton, press secretary for the Department of Corrections, has said a new execution date would be "scheduled directly" if Michael's stay of execution was lifted. She could not immediately be reached for comment Monday afternoon.

York County District Attorney Tom Kearney has said the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals was Michael's last chance to avoid being put to death.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com.