Patrick J. Wallace, Jr., an officer with the Pittsburgh Police Department, stopped a vehicle for a traffic violation in Brushton on July 3, 1974. During the stop, Wallace found that one of the passengers, Lafayette Jones, was wanted on an outstanding drug charge. Unknown to Wallace, another of the men, Stanton Story, had recently escaped from Western Penitentiary, where he was serving 4-15 years for nine armed robberies.
The men fled the scene. When Wallace pursued them, he was shot by Story. Fleeing the scene, Story was arrested more than two months later.
At trial, Story was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death. On appeal, Story argued that allowing the prosecution to permit Officer Wallace’s wife, Marilyn, to testify about their marriage and family was irrelevant and prejudicial. The court agreed, and on January 26, 1978, ordered a new trial.
On retrial, Story was again convicted on October 26, 1979 and sentenced to death the next day.
On appeal, on December 28, 1981, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld the conviction but reversed the death sentence and resentenced Story to life. The basis for the Court’s conclusion was that the death penalty statute in place when Story committed his crime was subsequently found unconstitutional and that Story could not properly be sentenced to death under a statute not in place when he committed his crime.
Story remains in prison serving a life sentence.