Appeal - CW v Morrisroe

PA Supreme Court DENIES Morrisroe's Petition for Allowance of Appeal

McKean County District Attorney Stephanie L. Vettenburg-Shaffer reports that, by Order dated August 23, 2021, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has denied Paul Morrisroe’s request to hear his appeal. 

The criminal trial in the case had been moved to the Venango County Courthouse due to the publicity surrounding the case in McKean County.  Venango County residents made up the jury.

On January 26, 2017, after a nearly two week trial, Morrisroe was convicted of Homicide by Vehicle; Homicide by Vehicle While Under the Influence of Alcohol or Controlled Substance; Accidents Involving Death or Personal Injury; Accidents Involving Damage to Attended Vehicle/Property; 4 counts of Driving Under the Influence (alcohol and/or controlled substance); and several summary offenses for a crash that claimed the life of McKean County man Dakota Heinaman. 

Morrisroe appealed his conviction to the Pennsylvania Superior Court and, in December, of 2020, the Superior Court upheld his conviction.

At the time of the Superior Court’s decision, DA Stephanie Vettenburg-Shaffer expressed her gratitude to the Venango County jury, the 46 witnesses who testified on behalf of the Commonwealth, and the numerous members of law enforcement including lead investigator, Pennsylvania State Police Sergeant Mary Gausman, several other members of the Pennsylvania State Police, Smethport Borough Police, State Police Forensic Services Unit, and a State Police Accident Reconstructionist.

The events dated back to June 2, 2015, when a vehicle driving by defendant Morrisroe crashed into a motorcycle driven by Dakota Heinaman who had just gotten off work and was returning home.   The Morrisroe vehicle fled the scene and was located by law enforcement who followed the gauge marks in the road from the scene to Morrisroe’s garage several miles away – the gauge marks left in the roadway by the rim after the tire had shredded.  Dakota Heinaman died at the scene.

The case was prosecuted by District Attorney Stephanie L. Vettenburg-Shaffer and First Assistant District Attorney Michael Alfieri.

Closing statements by the defense and DA Shaffer were made on January 25, 2017 and the case went to the jury the next day.

The jury’s verdict was guilty.

Following the jury’s verdict, District Attorney Shaffer asked the court to modify the defendant’s bail and his bail was modified from $250,000 to $400,000 and he was remanded to the McKean County jail.  On February 22, 2017, Morrisroe was sentenced to 7 ½ years to 15 years.  He has been incarcerated within the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

District Attorney Shaffer reiterates her gratitude to the Venango County residents who heard the case, the witnesses who travelled from McKean County to testify, and the exemplary work of the Pennsylvania State Police and Smethport Borough Police.