2011-07-14 / Local & State

Pa. Lawyer Gets 10-25 Years In Hunting Death

By Maryclaire Dale

DOYLESTOWN, Pa. (AP) – A lawyer who killed a fellow deer hunter with a high-powered rifle was sentenced Friday to 10 to 25 years in prison for involuntary manslaughter and other charges.

David Manilla, a 49-yearold convicted felon barred from owning guns, engaged in a prolonged cover-up in the days after the Nov. 29 shooting, letting paramedics assume the victim had had a heart attack, removing dozens of guns from his hunting property and packing the rifle with dirt to thwart ballistics testing.

Bucks County Judge Arthur J. Cepparulo told Manilla that he was lucky he wasn’t charged with murder.

“You protected yourself, not the victim,’’ Cepparulo told him.

In court Friday, Manilla and his lawyers accused the victim, Barry Groh, of hunting without permission on public land across from his Richland Township property and blamed an ex-prosecutor hunting with Manilla for not taking control of the situation.

The former prosecutor was Manilla’s uncle and mentor, former Montgomery County District Attorney Michael Marino. Marino had represented Manilla when he pleaded guilty in 1985 to aggravated assault for hitting a foe outside a gym with a weight bar, breaking his skull. The felony plea meant Manilla could not own guns – yet he became a rabid gun collector.

“Seeing him go away in handcuffs was the most important thing,’’ said widow Theresa Groh, 52, of Quakertown. “The judge ... saw through everything.’’

Prosecutors contend that Manilla acted recklessly throughout the day, carrying the loaded rifle while driving an all-terrain vehicle and firing it toward a neighbor hunting with his two teen daughters. The highpowered rifle – illegal in residential Bucks County – could hit targets two to four miles away.

The bullet struck Groh, 52, as he knelt by a stream after bagging an eight-point buck on the first day of hunting season.

Before he died, he had called his wife to ask her to send their oldest son to come help him get it home. But first, he told her to have the son grab an orange safety vest, the judge noted, pointing out Groh’s reputation for safe hunting.

A taxidermist has since created a mount of the buck for the family.

“We have it sitting in our living room,’’ Theresa Groh said after the hearing. “It’s beautifully done. We appreciate it.’’

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