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Jury selection begins in second Hess murder-for-hire trial
Jury selection for Gregory Allen Hess' second murder-for-hire trial began Monday with York County Court of Common Pleas Judge Harry M. Ness presiding over the case.
Hess, 48, of Hoff Road in North Codorus Township, was accused in 2014 of hiring Calvin L. Jones Jr. to kill his estranged wife's paramour, and then hiring fellow inmate Michael Crampton to kill Jones — and then hiring other fellow inmate Deansae Bryant to kill Crampton.
He was acquitted earlier this year in case involving Jones.
Hess now will be tried on two counts of criminal solicitation of first-degree murder and one count each of criminal conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and criminal use of a communications facility.
A pool of 50 potential jurors was brought into the court room Monday to face questioning from the judge, prosecuting attorneys and defense attorneys. Pre-trial conversations began around 9:30 a.m.
Among those conversations, a prosecuting attorney told Ness that Hess would be the only one standing trial on this case, with a former co-defendant in rehab and agreeing to testify and cooperate with the prosecution. There was no indication as to whether this referred to Bryant or Hess' son, Toby Allen Hess, who both face trial in related cases.
Former Common Pleas Judge Thomas H. Kelley VI issued a gag order in Hess' cases, meaning neither the prosecution nor the defense can comment.
The trial will be Hess' second involving the allegations. He was found not guilty in May of solicitation of first-degree murder and criminal use of a communications facility.
That first trial was in relation to allegations Hess paid Jones $1,900 to kill Christopher Ward, who was romantically involved with Hess' wife. Jones instead went to police.
In the case now getting under way, police allege Hess — who co-owns Keystone Restorations & Builders Inc. — was being held in York County Prison when he offered Crampton $15,000 to kill Jones. Crampton also went to authorities, according to court documents.
The trial also includes allegations that Hess tried to hire Bryant to kill Crampton, documents state.
Police allege Hess instructed his son, Toby Allen Hess, to give $500 to Bryant's girlfriend as partial payment on the agreed-upon hit.
Toby Hess, 20, is charged with conspiracy to intimidate a witness for allegedly taking a photograph of Jones during his father's preliminary hearing on the first case.
Bryant also is charged with solicitation to commit murder and related offenses.
—Reach David Weissman at firstname.lastname@example.org.