By Jeffrey Roth
CARLISLE Pa. (Reuters) - A prison inmate accused of plotting the murder for hire of a Pennsylvania judge was convicted on Friday of solicitation to commit murder.
A jury in Cumberland County Court reached its verdict a day after Lance Greenawalt, 47, tearfully testified in his own defense that it was just "trash talk" when he discussed hiring his cellmate at Camp Hill State Correctional Institution to kill Adams County Judge Michael George.
After hearing the verdict, Greenawalt, wearing maroon sweatpants and a white shirt with the black letters DOC for Department of Correction on the back, his hands shackled behind him as he was led out of the courtroom, called to reporters to come interview him in prison.
Greenawalt faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when he is sentenced on Sept. 30.
The plot to kill George was hatched after the judge sentenced Greenawalt to 4 1/2 to 13 years in Pennsylvania state prison for a 2006 burglary and assault of Daniel Keys, prosecutors said.
They said while serving his prison time in September 2010, Greenawalt attempted to hire his cellmate, Timothy Bryce, to kill the judge. Their jailhouse conversations were recorded after they were transferred to a wired cell when Bryce alerted prison officials that Greenawalt was soliciting him for the crime.
Prosecutors said the plan involved breaking into the judge's rural, Gettysburg-area home and killing him with a machete.
But Greenawalt testified he was just blowing off steam and never really meant a murder should be committed.
The judge was one of three people Greenawalt hired his cellmate to kill, the others being Keys and his half-brother, John Lloyd, whose savings Greenawalt expected to inherit if both were dead, prosecutors said. Greenawalt has since been convicted of solicitation to murder in both those cases and is serving a sentence of 30 to 70 years.
(Editing by Barbara Goldberg)