Whether a York-area businessman is tried jointly on the three murder-for-hire plots he is accused of, or whether he stands trial two or even three times, is expected to be a pretrial point of contention.
Chief deputy prosecutor David Sunday said one consolidated trial for Gregory Allen Hess would make it easier to prosecute the case, and be more economical than multiple trials.
Furthermore, he said, Hess should face a single trial because all three murder-for-hire allegations are part of an ongoing course of conduct.
But defense attorney Suzanne Smith, who represents Hess on the second and third sets of allegations, said that would not be fair to her client.
'Prejudicial': "Sure it would be prejudicial," she said after Hess' Friday preliminary on the second and third allegations. She represents Hess on those charges; defense attorney Farley Holt represents Hess on the first set of charges.
Both Sunday and Smith said it will be up to a York County judge to decide whether Hess receives one, two or three trials.
At the close of Friday's preliminary hearing, District Judge Richard Martin II determined enough evidence exists for Hess to stand trial on the second and third allegations. Martin set Hess' formal court arraignment date for Aug. 29.
Hess, 47, of 1950 Hoff Road in North Codorus Township, remains in York County Prison on a combined $20 million bail, believed to be the highest ever set for a criminal defendant in York County. He is charged, in total, with three counts of solicitation to commit homicide and related offenses.
The background: Hess, who co-owns Keystone Restorations & Builders Inc., is accused of paying a confidential informant $1,900 to kill York County resident Christopher Ward, who is romantically involved with Hess' wife, Laurie Hess.
He was charged with solicitation to commit homicide and initially denied bail. York County Common Pleas Judge Thomas H. Kelley VI later set bail in the case for $10 million.
Hess' family and friends raised a non-refundable $100,000 to pay local bail bondsman, who then posted bond for Hess, who was initially locked up from April 18 to May 30.
The judge revoked bail when Hess was re-arrested for his second case, and he returned to prison on June 11.
Second case: In the second case, police allege Hess offered a fellow York County Prison inmate $15,000 to kill Informant 1, who testified against him at a preliminary hearing in the first case.
The informant had testified Hess hired him to kill Ward.
Gregory Hess was charged a third time after he allegedly tried to hire fellow prison inmate Deansae Bryant, 29, of York City, to kill a second police informant.
Police allege Hess instructed his son, Toby Allen Hess, to withdraw $500 from his dad's bank account and give it to Bryant's girlfriend as partial payment to have the second informant killed.
Toby Hess, 18, is charged with conspiracy to intimidate a witness for allegedly taking a photograph of Informant 1 during his father's May 9 preliminary hearing. He remains free on bail.
Bryant remains in prison, also charged with solicitation to commit murder and related offenses.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org.