The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Sunday, March 09, 2003  

Convicted Murderer Ira Einhorn

Well, look who's back in the news: Ira Einhorn.

The Philadelphia Inquirer last week reported Einhorn is seeking to fire his court-appointed defense attorney, that as the appeal of his October 2002 murder conviction is pending before the Pennsylvania Superior Court. ("Einhorn Wants to Fire Court-Appointed Lawyer," by Jacqueline Soteropoulos, March 4, 2003.)

As widely reported, Einhorn last year -- after some 20 years on the run -- was convicted of the 1977 slaying of his longtime girlfriend, Bryn Mawr College graduate Holly Maddux.

William Cannon, a highly experienced and well regarded defense attorney, was appointed by the court to represent Einhorn in last year's murder trial and the initial appeal.

According to the Inquirer Einhorn on February 21 wrote to Cannon: "To reiterate for the third time, I no longer wish you to act in any way as my lawyer. Please inform the judge of my wishes. Do not speak about my case in public as my representative."

Einhorn, now 62, is serving a life sentence in Houtzdale State Prison, in Houtzdale, Pa. The appeal, filed by Cannon, argues, among other things, that the trial judge improperly allowed the jury to hear testimony regarding Einhorn's prior violent acts against previous girlfriends, is pending before the Pennsylvania Superior Court.

The Inquirer reports Cannon is confused by Einhorn's plea. "Ira has received my very best efforts at all times," Cannon said.

Cannon's contention will come as a surprise to those who closely followed the Einhorn prosecution, including observers, like me, who were not particularly predisposed toward the so-called Unicorn Killer. (During the trial, The Rittenhouse Review sharply criticized Cannon for his bizarre defense. [See, "Read Between the Lines," October 2, 2002; "Einhorn Defense Shifts From Desperate to Deranged," October 10, 2002; and "Ira Einhorn: Convicted Murderer," October 17, 2002.])

Thus, while I am modestly sympathetic to Einhorn's complaints about the quality of his defense, I would emphasize that Einhorn's case was pretty weak to begin with.

Moreover, it is ironic that Einhorn is now complaining about inadequate legal representation. After his arrest on March 28, 1979, after police found Maddox's rotting corpse, stored in a truck in Einhorn's Philadelphia apartment for 18 months, the defendant availed himself of the willing and eager representation of a man who was then considered one of Philadelphia's best attorneys.

At a hearing on April 3, 1979, bail was set at $40,000. The $4,000 bond was posted by Barbara Bronfman, one of several deluded, but not necessarily intoxicated, heirs to the Seagram liquor fortune.

After having been freed on bail, Einhorn fled jurisdiction in January 1981, just days before the start of his trial, spending the subsequent two decades mostly in Europe until he was extradited to Pennsylvania by France, where he had been frolicking nude in the countryside with his Swedish-born wife, in 2001.

According to published reports, Einhorn's attorney at the time of the bail hearing: Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.).

The specter of Specterism. It's haunting Pennsylvania.

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