Man convicted of double murder files appeals

April 1, 2013
Terrance Graham is escorted to his sentencing in July 2011. - O-R file photo

A Bentleyville man serving two life sentences without the possibility of parole for the murders of his estranged girlfriend and a Pittsburgh man is appealing his convictions.

Terrance K. Graham, 36, who was found guilty in June 2011, has petitioned the state Supreme Court to hear his appeal. Superior Court also granted him reargument.

A Washington County jury found Graham guilty of two counts of first-degree murder, one count of abuse of a corpse and one count of tampering with physical evidence in connection with the deaths of Lynna Ronnell Flippen, 25, of Ellsworth, and Earnest Yarbough Jr., 31, on May 13, 2010.

Flippen called Washington County 911 about 4:50 a.m. that day, reporting that she was being attacked.

When police arrived, they found blood in several parts of her home, and a trail of blood that led to a sidewalk and an area across the street where residents and guests would park their cars. Police investigated the case as that of a missing person until a man taking his daily walk at 7:15 a.m. saw a woman’s body in the back seat of a car on Butsko Road in Fallowfield Township. When state police took the car to the barracks for processing, they found Yarbough’s body stuffed inside the trunk.

Graham, who is represented by the Washington County public defender’s office, is seeking to have his conviction reversed based on multiple issues, including: Judge Paul Pozonsky’s decision not to throw out Graham’s statements to police; Pozonsky’s allowing Flippen’s protection-from-abuse cases involving Graham in 2007 through 2010 and photographs of the deceased victims to be included in his trial; and the prosecution’s failure to produce the firearm that caused Flippen’s and Yarbough’s deaths, or evidence linking Graham to the firearm.

Graham also is claiming that the state trooper who testified and gave opinions about the times, places and tower locations of Graham’s cellphone transmissions was not qualified as an expert in that field.

Sitting in judgment on the Superior Court case were Retired Senior Judge Robert E. Colville and Judges Paula Francisco Ott and Jacqueline O. Shogan, who wrote a five-page memorandum affirming the decisions and sentence imposed by Pozonsky, who abruptly retired from the bench in June of last year.

Shogan wrote in February that the “photographs of an allegedly gruesome nature” were not forwarded with the certified record of the appeal, so Superior Court deferred “to the discretion of the trial judge who had the opportunity to view” them.

In addition to the life sentences, Pozonsky ordered Graham to spend 6 to 12 months in prison on the abuse of a corpse and tampering with physical evidence charges.

Barbara S. Miller covers politics, Washington County government and a variety of other topics for the Observer-Reporter. She is a graduate of Washington & Jefferson College, majoring in English and history. Follow her on Twitter @reporterbarb.

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