Woman granted murder retrial

Defendant claims council was ineffective

MIFFLINTOWN — A 61-year-old woman who is serving a life sentence after being convicted of first-degree murder was granted a new trial on Thursday by President Judge Kathy A. Morrow.

A new trial was granted for Brenda S. Smith, of Globe, Ariz., during a conference at Juniata County Courthouse. The retrial comes after Smith’s attorney, David Silverman, of Silverman and Associates, filed a Post Conviction Relief Act petition last September.

Smith was convicted of first-degree murder and criminal homicide during a 2012 jury trial.

According to court documents, she allegedly shot and killed Michael Hockenberry during a domestic dispute in 2010.

The petition raises several claims of ineffective assistance of council during the five-day trial.

Court documents indicate that Hockenberry raped Smith on two occasions and that council failed to investigate battering as it related to both Smith and her daughter.

Court documents indicate that Smith has the right to court-funded expert psychological services that are essential to the disposition of the issues and that Dr. Cynthia Lischick, a forensic psychologist located in Clarksburg, New Jersey, will provide expert testimony in the new trial.

Smith’s petition further claims that the jury was not permitted to have physical possession of her written confession.

A hearing on the Post Conviction Relief Act that was schedule for Oct. 4 to 6 was canceled after the judge’s ruling. A new trial date has not yet been scheduled.