gavel

PITTSBURGH — A Pennsylvania court has rejected the appeal of a man convicted of killing two sisters who lived next door to him in Pittsburgh and were sisters of Iowa State Rep. Mary Wolfe of Clinton.

Allen Wade, 49, was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder in the February 2014 deaths of Sarah and Susan Wolfe, who were found shot to death in the basement of their East Liberty home.

A Superior Court panel rejected his appeal arguments, including his assertion that a judge should not have allowed prosecutors to use as evidence a black knit hat containing the defendant’s DNA that was found in the victims’ home five weeks before their deaths, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

Defense attorneys called the hat found after a December 2013 burglary irrelevant and said it would prejudice the jury. Judge Edward Borkowski said it could establish that the defendant had been in the home, something he had denied, and the appeals court agreed.

“The existence of this evidence, placing appellant inside the victims’ house, directly contradicted appellant’s two statements to police,” the court said.

The defense also challenged the judge’s decision to let jurors see a PowerPoint exhibit on the DNA testing and said a mistrial should have been declared after a witness mentioned having had a lie-detector test.

Susan Wolfe, 44, was a teacher’s aide at the Hillel Academy in Squirrel Hill, while Sarah Wolfe, 38, was a psychiatrist at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in Oakland. Defense attorneys argued at trial that police rushed to judgment due to Wolfe’s prominence.

Prosecutors sought the death penalty following the first-degree murder convictions, but a jury deadlock led to a sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.