60 Years Ago from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Aug. 11, 1953

By Vince Johnson; Rick Nowlin | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), August 11, 2013 | Go to article overview

60 Years Ago from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Aug. 11, 1953


Vince Johnson; Rick Nowlin, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


A jury of 10 men and two women was selected in Butler today to try Ernest E. Storch, Pittsburgh mechanic, as an accessory in the brutal murder of his wife, Alice, by two paid killers.

Fixed opinions of many prospective jurors as to his guilt or innocence and opposition to the death penalty slowed completion of the jury.

Just before court adjourned for the day at 5 p.m. the last members of the jury -- two men who will serve as alternates -- were selected.

At that time only three members of the original panel of 57 prospective jurors remained and Visiting Judge J. Frank Graff of Armstrong County had already discussed with Sheriff E.B. Walker the possible need for a new panel.

In questioning the jurors, District Attorney Clark H. Painter bore out his pre-trial announcement that he would seek the death penalty by questioning all jurors closely on their stand on capital punishment.

Mrs. Storch was slain the night of February 24 in the couple's ranch-style home on Route 19, Cranberry Township, about seven miles south of Zelienople.

The body was discovered by Storch when he arrived home shortly after 2 a.m. from his job as a mechanic at the Gulf Oil Corporation's bulk plant in Bloomfield. She had been strangled and stabbed but the coroner's report indicated strangulation was cause of death.

Despite wrangling over jurors' qualifications, the first chosen, who will be the foreman, was picked after he not only expressed scruples against capital punishment but had formed an opinion as to Storch's guilt or innocence.

The state charges the 50-year-old defendant engineered a plot to have his wife, Alice, slain for fees totaling $10,000, to be paid on an installment plan. …

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