RIDGWAY - On Thursday afternoon Edward R. Kralik, 68, of St. Marys, went before Elk County President Judge Richard Masson as part of a Post-Conviction Relief Act (PCRA) hearing. Kralik pleaded guilty in May to third-degree murder in the June 2010 homicide of Clayton Lecker of St. Marys and is currently incarcerated at State Correction Institution (SCI) Smithfield in Huntingdon.
Leanne Nedza, Kralik's attorney, stated the purpose of the hearing is that Kralik "was not afforded effective assistance of council when he made his plea."
Masson continued the hearing to a later date "to afford the defense the opportunity to provide additional evidence in medical testimony for his (Kralik's) condition."
A PCRA allows a defendant to appeal a case when a direct appeal to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania has been denied. The PCRA must be filed within one year of final disposition of case that ended all the defendant's appellate rights. The exception to this rule is when the defendant is in custody. When a defendant is in custody, there are various ways to file a PCRA after one year has passed. Newly found evidence is an exception to the one-year rule.
In July, Nedza filed a PCRA petition with amendments made to the document in October. The Commonwealth filed an answer to the petition in October.
At the beginning of the hearing, Nedza said she met with Kralik prior to filing the amended petition, during which she explained to him there are only two remedies for a PCRA: withdrawing a plea and going back to square one and entering a new plea or taking his case to trial.