The civil lawsuit trial involving the fatal shooting of Richland resident Charity Thome in March 2020 that was to begin Monday, Jan. 29, has been postponed again. 

The new court date was set by U.S. Middle District Court Judge Christopher C. Conner for Monday, July 1, at the federal courthouse in Harrisburg.

It’s unclear why the case was continued from the end of January until summer. However, a court official told LebTown it is believed that the judge has another case that will overlap the Jan. 29 start date of the Thome trial. 

It’s the second time that the case involving the fatal shooting by Pennsylvania State Police troopers Jay Splain and Matthew Haber has been continued. Originally scheduled to begin in mid-November, the case was continued by Conner the first time until Jan. 29. 

In November, a separate case that Conner was presiding over was expected to conflict with the scheduled start of jury selection in the Thome case. A court official told LebTown at that time that’s why the Thome suit was being continued.

Read More: Civil lawsuit for Thome’s fatal shooting by two state police troopers is continued until 2024

LebTown previously reported that the Thome case is expected to run six or seven days, according to court documents filed by the Attorney General’s office, counsel for the two defendants. 

Given the estimated amount of time the trial is expected to last, the July 1 date means proceedings are likely to run into the July 4 holiday three days later. 

Attorneys for both parties have previously attempted to settle the case, but have failed to reach an agreement, according to Benjamin Present, attorney with Kline & Specter, a Philadelphia-based law firm representing the Thome estate.  

“We have had settlement discussions with the counsel for the defendants in the case,” said Present. “The offers that we have received have not been adequate to compensate Ms. Thome’s family for the enormous loss of their loved one. We are prepared to try this case to a jury of Ms. Thome’s peers.”

LebTown had reported in November  that the Thome estate seeks between $5.2 and nearly $6 million as part of the civil lawsuit.

Plaintiff Derek Thome, acting on behalf of Thome’s estate, requests $5 million for “pain and suffering, emotional distress, mental anguish, and sense of impending death” in the moments before the 42-year-old Richland woman died from several gunshot wounds, according to court documents. 

Court documents filed late last month also state the plaintiff seeks between $213,753 and $997,584 for past and future lost earning potential, as explained in a report compiled by David L. Hopkins, an actuarial economist based in southeastern Pennsylvania.  

The state notes in court documents that the actions of troopers Splain and Haber occurred while on duty and that they are not liable to a civil lawsuit as state government employees. 

The Thome shooting was the third of four involving Splain and the second within Lebanon County.

Thome was shot seven times on March 16, 2020, after a high-speed, early-morning vehicular chase that ended on rural King Street in Jackson Township. She died inside her car.

Splain had already been involved in two fatal shootings while on duty. In November 2020, Derek Thome, on behalf of Charity Thome’s estate, filed a federal civil lawsuit against Splain, Haber, and the Pennsylvania State Police, alleging that Splain and Haber were not justified in using deadly force against Thome. (The Thome shooting was the first for Haber.)

A year later, Splain was involved in a fourth fatal shooting and second within in Lebanon County that saw Andy Dzwonchyk, a 40-year-old Jonestown man, killed in Union Township. A civil lawsuit filed by Dzwonchyk’s estate over his death was settled by Pennsylvania State Police in September 2022 for $1.75 million.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article misstated the township where the chase ended.

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James Mentzer is a freelance writer whose published works include the books Pennsylvania Manufacturing: Alive and Well; Bucks County: A Snapshot in Time; United States Merchant Marine Academy: In Service to the Nation 1943-2018; A Century of Excellence: Spring Brook Country Club 1921-2021; Lancaster...


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