After mistrial, guilty pleas in ballpark murder

Instead of facing a second jury trial, three men accused in the beating death of a Lansdale man outside Citizens Bank Park in 2009 pleaded guilty yesterday to voluntary manslaughter and conspiracy.

Charles Bowers, James Groves and Francis Kirchner admitted their roles in the deadly assault on David Sale, 22, in parking lot K on July 25, 2009. Sale was part of a small group attending the Phillies game for a bachelor party, while the three defendants were among 60 or so people from Mo’s Tavern in Fishtown.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Dec. 20, and the three could face a maximum of 40 years in prison.

Last month, Judge Shelley Robins New declared a mistrial based on prosecutorial misconduct and called for a retrial. Defense attorneys filed a motion claiming double jeopardy, which New was scheduled to hear yesterday. The hearing was delayed as the defendants agreed to the plea deals, which were similar to offers from prosecutors before the trial.

New continued a gag order for the attorneys, which prohibits them from talking to the media until after sentencing.

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