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Last updated: March 14. 2013 10:56PM - 1533 Views
By - elewis@civitasmedia.com - (570) 991-6116



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WILKES-BARRE — A Luzerne County judge has reinstated appellate rights for a man convicted of violating Megan’s Law.


Joseph Derhammer, 42, was convicted of failing to comply with registration requirements after a bench trial presided over by then Judge Lewis Wetzel on March 3, 2011. Derhammer was sentenced to 40 to 80 months in state prison on April 20, 2011.


City police accused Derhammer of failing to register an address with state police after he was “thrown out” of a house on Chester Street, Wilkes-Barre, on April 1, 2009, according to arrest records.


The Chester Street house was severely damaged by a fire that claimed the lives of Derhammer’s former girlfriend, Nancy Kostelnick, 48, and her daughter, Carolyn “CJ” Kostelnick, 23, on April 13, less than two weeks after Nancy Kostelnick ended her relationship with Derhammer.


Police charged Derhammer with intentionally setting the fire. His trial on two counts of criminal homicide and arson-related charges is scheduled for May.


Derhammer moved to a place on Park Avenue, Wilkes-Barre, but failed to register the address within 48 hours as required for a lifetime registered sexual offender, arrest records say.


He requested a bench trial on the Megan’s Law charge. The case was transferred among three judges before Wetzel found him guilty.


Derhammer appealed the conviction to the state Superior Court.


Judge David Lupas this week in an opinion stated Derhammer’s appeal should be granted after being unable to find any record that Derhammer was read his rights before the bench trial commenced.


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