Jury deliberating Hess' fate

Sean Philip Cotter
  • Hess found guilty on three of four charges including conspiracy to kill Crampton.
  • Hess' sentencing hearing has been set for Dec. 31 at 9 a.m.
  • Each charge Hess was convicted of carries up to 20 years in prison.

Gregory Allen Hess’ fate is in the jury’s hands now.

On Thursday, the prosecution and defense in Hess’ double-murder-for-hire case presented closing arguments. By about 3 p.m., Judge Harry Ness gave the case to the 12 people who had sat quietly in teh jury box for almost the past two weeks.

The jury deliberated for about four hours before Ness sent them home just before 7 p.m.; they'll start up again at about 9 a.m. Friday.

The defense gave its closing argument first, with attorney Suzanne Smith addressing the jury for about an hour.

She focused on the credibility of the prosecution’s witnesses, saying that many of them only came forward when they had something to gain from doing so, and that many of them were caught in lies throughout testimony, or had committed crimes of dishonesty before.

“There was evidence to prove they were liars,” she said.

She said this about Michael Crampton, who testified Hess had tried to hire him to kill Calvin Jones Jr., who was testifying against Hess in a different case. She said Crampton opted not to bring the information he claimed he had on Hess to law enforcement until he realized he wouldn’t be getting out of jail as soon as he thought he would be.

And another inmate, Edward Luttrell, testified Hess had him find a man to kill Crampton after Crampton went to the police.

Smith said both were savvy criminal, “prison-smart” men who saw their chance to “jump on the charges” of Hess, who didn’t have the same street knowledge. She said both wanted out of prison, and both knew the district attorney’s office was the only entity that could make that happen.

“His ultimate goal was to get out of jail — and he succeeded,” she said of Crampton, and then repeated the same sentiments later when talking about Luttrell, who she called a “master manipulator.”

Prosecution: Chief deputy prosecutor Tim Barker then gave his own hour-long presentation to the jury. Barker channeled Cookie Monster at the start of his argument.

“‘C’ is for ‘cookie‘ — that’s good enough for me,” he said. And then he listed off the C’s he wanted the jury to think about: “credibility, corroboration and common sense.”

He said just because some of his key witnesses were getting consideration for their testimony doesn’t mean it’s a lie. He said his witnesses’ testimony is consistent not only with the prosecution’s narrative, but also with each other, and with phone recordings and letters from the time in question.

He also said the defense’s portrayal of Hess as a poor thing who got taken advantage of in prison isn’t the right characterization of the situation.

“Greg Hess is not a stupid man,” he said. “What Greg Hess is is a criminal.”

Charges: Gregory Hess, 48, of Hoff Road in North Codorus Township, is charged with two counts of solicitation to commit murder, as well one count each of conspiracy to commit murder and using an electronic device to further a crime.