Attempted homicide suspect seeks new trial or lower sentence

By Roger DuPuis - [email protected]
Salata -

WILKES-BARRE — A Hazle Township man sentenced last week to spend at least two decades behind bars on an attempted homicide conviction is seeking acquittal because the verdict was not supported by the evidence.

Failing that, a lawyer for George Salata argues, he should be granted a new trial or a lesser sentence.

On Tuesday, Luzerne County Judge Michael T. Vough sentenced Salata, 60, to spend 20 to 40 years in prison in connection with the January 2017 shooting of Michael Gontz. Salata was found guilty of one count of attempted homicide and two felony counts of aggravated assault in February after a brief, two-day trial.

In a post-sentence motion filed Friday, defense attorney Allyson Leigh Kacmarski wrote that the verdict “was not based upon the facts presented, but is a product of speculation and conjecture.” Her motion did not elaborate.

Prosecutors said Salata shot Gontz in the face with a shotgun after a dispute over Gontz’s girlfriend. Jurors found Salata guilty after two hours of deliberation.

At sentencing, prosecutor Thomas Hogans asked the judge to sentence Salata to serve between 25 and 50 years in state prison.

Vough sentenced Salata to spend 240 to 480 months, or 20 to 40 years, in a state prison on the attempted homicide count. Vough also sentenced him to 48 to 96 months in prison on the aggravated assault counts, but those sentences will run concurrently with the other term.

In her motion, Kacmarski also asks the court to consider imposing a sentence at the bottom of the standard range.

According to prosecutors, Gontz suffered life-threatening injuries, requiring numerous surgeries to remove shotgun pellets from his face.

Gontz, who is still recovering from the shooting, said he was happy with the punishment, indicating he’s glad the case is over.


By Roger DuPuis

[email protected]