Man guilty in girlfriend’s Millersville dorm beating death

The Associated Press

LANCASTER — A man who told authorities he got into a fight with his college freshman girlfriend over spilled noodles was convicted Monday of beating and strangling her last year in Pennsylvania.

A former swim coach has agreed to a tentative plea deal for allegedly having an inappropriate relationship with a swimmer.

Jurors deliberated for a little over an hour before convicting Gregorio Orrostieta of third-degree murder in the death of 18-year-old Karlie Hall at her Millersville University dorm in February 2015.

Orrostieta, 20, told police they had been drinking and got into the fight and she fell and hit her head, authorities said. The defense argued that an earlier injury figured into her death.

Orrostieta was found trying to administer CPR to his girlfriend after calling 911, but authorities said he was faking that and she had been dead for hours. Prosecutors described him as jealous and said he cursed at and shoved her earlier in the evening at a party.

Brett Hambright of the Lancaster County district attorney’s office said officials were “surprised” by the third-degree conviction, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 to 40 years.

“We thought we had a first-degree case here. That’s what we presented,” he told LNP newspapers.

Defense attorney Peter Bowers said he was pleased that jurors “found it was not an intentional killing.”

“There are no winners in this case,” Bowers said outside the courtroom. “There never were.”

In closing arguments earlier Monday, Assistant District Attorney Susan Ellison said Hall’s autopsy concluded that deadly force was used on her head, neck and chest, each of which could have been sufficient to kill her.

“That’s not reckless, that’s not negligent,” Ellison said. “That’s intent.”

Bowers cited disagreement between prosecution and defense pathologists on the manner of death and the position Hall was in when it occurred.

“I ask how you can determine this case beyond a reasonable doubt,” he said, adding that the evidence allowed a “range of verdicts” from acquittal to third-degree murder.