A man accused of the 1978 murder of a Tunnelton teenager will get a new trial.
Indiana County Judge Thomas Bianco this morning ordered that Ronald Weiss will be tried again for the murder of 16-year-old Barbara Bruzda, who was found in Young Township after she disappeared in March of 1979. In 1997, prosecutors from the State Attorney General’s office brought their case against Weiss and he was found guilty of first-degree murder and was given a death sentence, which was later changed to life in prison without parole. Over the last twenty years, Weiss’ lawyers have appealed the case, and U.S. District Court Judge Mark Hornak last winter overturned the conviction, saying that the state attorney general’s office violated Weiss’ right to due process by not informing the jury that two fellow inmates of Weiss were rewarded for their testimony against him with preferential treatment.
Weiss had reportedly worked on a plea deal with prosecutors that could have led to a plea of third-degree murder, which would have him released from prison on time served. That was on the mind of Barbara’s younger sister, Mary Ann Hornick, who was in court today for the hearing. She said that there is still a sense of optimism after the judge’s ruling today, as there is still a chance that Weiss will remain in prison after the new trial.
No word yet on when that new trial will be held, but it looks like a senior federal judge will handle the case.