Accused Ross Township Shooter Gets Defense Team
It is a case that grabbed national attention and now the man at the center of it all has a defense team.
Rockne Newell is accused of shooting at a room full of people during a municipal meeting in the Poconos this past summer.
Three people died after that shooting in Ross Township, Monroe County.
The case is a Monroe County one, but it seems attorneys there have conflicts of interest in the high profile case or are unavailable.
Two attorneys have been appointed to represent Rockne Newell.
One is a Pike County attorney and former district attorney.
The other is Luzerne County lawyer Bill Ruzzo, no stranger to controversial cases.
The Luzerne County attorney recently got the call from Monroe County’s president judge, assigning him as one of two attorneys to represent Newell.
“She asked me if I would take the case and I told her, ‘this is what I do, I’d be glad to take it,’ and I’m flattered that she asked, I told her, and I am. I’m flattered that she asked,” he said.
Investigators said Newell shot and killed three innocent people all because he was angry over a property dispute with Ross Township officials.
Prosecutors said they will seek the death penalty.
For decades, Bill Ruzzo has been a strong opponent of capital punishment.
“The first priority is to save our client’s life, and we would go from there,” he said.
Ruzzo said he has defended people in more than 20 capital cases.
He has worked defending George Banks’ right to live.
Banks was convicted of murdering 13 people in 1982 including his own children.
He was sentenced to death by electrocution but later declared too mentally ill to execute.
Ruzzo said this may shock some, but he thinks everyone, no matter what they have done, have “inner goodness.”
“You play the hand that you are dealt, the evidence is overwhelming, you plea. Everyone is entitled to a trial and everyone is entitled to a defense that you can give them. If it’s a death penalty case, that may be saving the person’s life is the best defense you can give them,” said Ruzzo.
Ruzzo said he has met with his client several times already.
Rockne Newell is due in court in Monroe County on November 14 for a preliminary hearing.