The entire team at D’Amato Law Firm is proud to share that attorney Stephen M. Van Natten appeared on an episode of the Investigation Discovery program, “Dead of Night.” The episode aired on Thursday, March 21 and featured the story of one of the youngest serial killers in American history and the first serial killer from Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Harvey Robinson is currently imprisoned on death row for the rape and murder of 47-year-old Jessica Jean Fortney. He is also serving two life sentences for the rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl and another adult woman from the early 1990s. One of his surviving victims was only 5-years-old at the time of the attack. Robinson was convicted after DNA evidence linked him to all three of the murders and the attempted murders. He was sentenced to 100+ years in jail for the non-fatal attacks and was originally given three death sentences for the murders he committed.
Stephen Van Natten was the Chief of Prosecutions for the Lehigh County Office of the District Attorney and took over the case while the case was on appeal in 2007. The first death sentence was changed to a life sentence when the law in PA changed to preclude a death sentence for a murder committed by a minor. Robinson was only 17 when his first victim was killed. That case is currently scheduled for a new sentencing hearing as a result of another change in PA law.
The second death sentence was also reversed on appeal, citing an error the Judge made when instructing the jury before deliberations. Van Natten was tasked with the responsibility of re-trying that case more than a decade later at a new death penalty trial. The third death sentence was appealed to the Supreme Court of PA on post-conviction grounds alleging ineffective counsel at trial. Through numerous hearings with several experts who assessed Robinson’s mental abilities when he committed the crimes, Van Natten successfully convinced the court that the judge was correct to deny the appeal.
Ultimately, the family of the 15-year-old murder victim agreed to a life sentence for Robinson on the condition there would be no chance he could appeal or challenge the sentence. To this day, the remaining death sentence is on appeal through federal habeas corpus.
View the full episode here.
If you or your loved one needs legal counsel on a personal injury matter, the experienced South Jersey personal injury lawyers at D’Amato Law Firm will guide you toward the best course of action. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 609-926-3300 or contact us online. We represent clients throughout South Jersey and in Atlantic City from our offices located in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey.