Pennsylvania v. Wholaver (majority)Annotate this Case
Defendant-appellant Ernest Wholaver, Jr. appealed the dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief pursuant to the Post Conviction Relief Act (“PCRA”). In July 2002, the Commonwealth charged Appellant with several sexual offenses for alleged conduct involving his two daughters, Victoria and Elizabeth. After the criminal charges were filed, Jean Wholaver (“Jean”), Elizabeth’s mother and Appellant’s wife, obtained a Protection From Abuse (“PFA”) order against Appellant on Elizabeth’s behalf. Among other things, the PFA order evicted Appellant from the family residence located in Middletown, Pennsylvania. As a result of this order, Appellant moved to Cambria County to live with his mother, father, and younger brother, Scott Wholaver (“Scott”). Shortly after midnight on December 24, 2002, Appellant and Scott drove from their home in Cambria County to Jean’s residence in Middletown. Scott waited in the vehicle while Appellant forcibly entered the home, where he shot and killed Jean, Victoria, and Elizabeth. Nine-month old Madison was relatively unharmed, but remained unattended until the bodies were discovered nearly 28 hours later. Police arrested Appellant and charged him with, inter alia, three counts of first-degree murder. He ultimately received the death penalty. Appellant raised a "multitude of issues" that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court found none of which had merit. Therefore, the Court affirmed dismissal of his petition.