George attorney files paperwork
By JUDY D.J. ELLICH
Daily American Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 21, 2007 12:35 AM EDT
Michael Ralph George, the Windber man accused of killing his wife 17
years ago in Michigan, is being held illegally at the Somerset County
Jail, according to paperwork filed Monday by his attorney.
The documents ask that George be taken before a judge immediately for
an extradition hearing or be released from jail.
George denies killing his first wife, Barbara George. He refused to
waive his right to an extradition hearing on Aug. 9 and is being held
Under Pennsylvania law, George can be committed to jail for up to 90
days. If an arrest warrant is not issued by the Pennsylvania governor
within that time, George must be released.
George, 47, 9th Street, was arrested Aug. 4 on charges of homicide,
first-degree murder and a firearms violation in the death of his first
According to Michigan police, George shot his wife execution-style
inside a comic book store they owned together in Macomb County.
Barbara George died of a single gunshot wound to the head, according
to a police report.
George co-owns Comics World comic book store along Graham Avenue with
his second wife, Renee. George married Renee shortly after his first
wife's death and moved to Windber less than two years later.
The couple has resided in Windber for the past 15 years.
To extradite George, prosecutors will have to prove several elements:
charges are pending against him in Michigan, he was present in
Michigan when the crime occurred, he is a fugitive from Michigan,
paperwork is in order and he is the person charged, District Attorney
Jerry Spangler said. That information will be presented in the final
request for an arrest warrant.
In the writ of habeas corpus, George's Johnstown attorney, Timothy C.
Leventry, said his client's confinement is unlawful because the
commonwealth has not presented any evidence to fulfill the
requirements for extradition.
Generally, a court only has jurisdiction in the state in which it is
located, Spangler said. The extradition process, set up under the U.S.
Constitution, allows an arrest warrant from one state to be recognized
by another state, he said.
"An actual extradition proceeding is the challenge to the detention of
somebody," he said.
In an extradition process, governors from both states must issue
arrest warrants. Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell has not yet issued a
According to Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith, the July 13, 1990,
killing was the result of an extramarital affair George was having
with a store employee. George also stood to benefit financially, with
a six-figure payout on his wife's life insurance policy, he said.
The case was re-opened by the district attorney's office in a
collective effort to solve cold cases in Macomb County, northeast of
If convicted of murder, George will have no chance for parole.
Michigan does not have the death penalty.