Judge denies new trial in Exeter blast case

The Associated Press

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WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) - Daniel Lamoreaux's guilty plea will stand.

Luzerne County Judge Tina Polachek Gartley on Wednesday denied Lamoreaux's request to withdraw his guilty plea to blowing up his Penn Street, Exeter, house on Aug. 1, 2009. The explosion scattered debris, damaged 55 homes, three businesses, an elementary school and injured two girls, resulting in civil lawsuits against Lamoreaux.

Investigators alleged Lamoreaux poured and sprayed gasoline that ignited throughout his house and garage.

Lamoreaux was sentenced to eight to 16 years in state prison. He was ordered to pay $265,722 in restitution cost for damage, hospital and insurance bills.

He sought to pull his guilty plea, claiming he was medicated and was suffering from depression when he appeared before Gartley on May 25, 2010, when he pleaded guilty to arson and causing a catastrophe. He said he was told by his court-appointed attorney, John Sobota, that he would be sentenced to 22 months to 35 months.

Lamoreaux said the explosion was not a violent act of arson but an accident in a failed suicide attempt. He spent several months in a medically induced coma at Lehigh Valley Burn Center in Allentown after the blast.

Gartley, in a ruling filed Wednesday, stated Lamoreaux understood he was pleading guilty and signed the plea agreement after “an extensive colloquy,” a process that includes questions by the judge to determine if the defendant understands the proceeding.

“(Lamoreaux) knowingly and voluntarily entered his guilty plea and was subject to sentencing by this court's discretion,” Gartley said in her opinion.

She further stated Lamoreaux failed to establish that his attorney was inept.

“(Lamoreaux) cannot raise a successful claim of ineffective council simply by virtue of his displeasure with the sentencing term of incarceration,” the judge stated.

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