Rebekah Byler Murder Case Update: Trial Postponed To Late 2024

This is not earth-shattering new information in the Rebekah Byler murder case. But, this is the first news we’ve seen since the court document release in March, so I wanted to bring you this update.

Shawn C. Cranston of Corry, PA was originally slated to be tried next month (June) for the killing of Byler and her unborn child. That trial has now been postponed until at least November. Here’s the relevant bit of the report from the Erie Times-News:

The trial will not occur any earlier to give defendant Shawn C. Cranston’s lawyer, “significant time” to review and investigate the “large amounts” of evidence the defense has received from the prosecution, according to a defense motion that Judge Francis J. Schultz granted on Tuesday.

I was a bit surprised to learn that the original trial was planned for June, just four month after the crimes took place. But I believe a continuance like this is not too uncommon in these types of cases, with the request for more time to handle evidence. Cranston’s lawyer originally sought to move the trial to the September term, but now looks to be getting more time than he asked for. There is also this:

Schultz also issued an order that sets a pretrial conference for June 24 at the Crawford County Judicial Center in Meadville. The prosecution and defense at the hearing are to discuss their ability “to try this case during the November 2024 term of criminal trials,” according to the order.

I am not sure if “November 2024 term” means the trial will definitely occur in the month of November, or if the term extends beyond the month (based on this document,it seems to be the case that the term fits within the month). In any case, it sounds like there will be more confirmation of that after the pretrial conference in June.

The Byler home in Crawford County, PA. Image: Fox 66 News

Beyond this basic analysis, we are probably getting too deep into legal minutiae for my very limited ability, or the interest level of readers, so I’ll leave it at that (though check out Gavin Fish’s YouTube channel, if you’d like a more in-depth look at this case from the legal perspective).

The other piece of news I hadn’t seen is that as of early April, Cranston has hired a private lawyer. He was originally represented by a public defender.

Moving towards justice

A November trial would mean just about nine months will have passed since Rebekah Byler’s February killing. I suppose that is pretty fast, considering how some murder trials seem to experience long delays between charges and formal resolution.

Members of the Bylers’ Amish community gathered outside the courthouse following the March pre-trial hearing. Image: Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

To make the most relevant recent comparison, Justo Smoker ended up pleading guilty to killing Linda Stoltzfoos about seven months after being charged in late 2020. So I suppose this time frame will turn out to be similar, assuming the November trial term holds.

I’ll continue to share updates as new information emerges.

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    2 Comments

    1. Anthony Shope

      Speedy Trial

      One has the right to a speedy trial. It’s often more advantageous for the defendant to waive that right.

      It’s all legal mumbo jumbo in an election year.

      That’s been my past experience as a retired police officer.

    2. I agree

      Erik, I agree with you. It’s not uncommon for murder tirals to occur a year of more after a suspect has been charged. Jim