Superior Court Judge Jeanne T. Covert warned the prosecutor and defense on Tuesday to follow the Supreme Court's detailed instructions when handling the Marie Hess murder case. The two sides in the high-profile case are struggling to reach a plea agreement.
In July, the state's high court overturned Hess' 30-year sentence, saying her lawyer failed to properly defend her. Hess pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter for shooting her husband, James, while he slept. But her attorney never raised the defense she suffered from battered wife syndrome. (Read the Inquirer report on the ruling here: http://bit.ly/vWNLyV)
Covert wants the prosecutor and defense to make a deal and resolve the matter. But First Assistant Burlco Prosecutor Ray Milavsky said there is a "fundamental disagreement" over whether Marie Hess' was actually abused by her husband.
Hess' attorney, Deputy Public Defender Kevin Walker, said he hoped the exchange of records in the case - including a report by Hess' psychiatrist - would help. People who said they witnessed the abuse are also being re-interviewed.
Covert said she would give the lawyers another month to examine the records and come to some conclusions. "Our high court has issued an opinion that is very detailed.. and a framework for how this case can be resolved," she said. "We're all required to follow the outline."