This is not a touching family story.
It is, instead, a tale of blood, drugs and homicide.
A state Superior Court panel wrote another chapter in that sad saga this week when it upheld the first-degree murder conviction of Louis R. Ogden for shooting his niece in the face when she complained about a $60 heroin deal.
As Judge Alice Beck Dubow described it in the state court opinion rejecting Ogden’s appeal, the killing of 20-year-old Rebecca Pisall was incredibly callous.
According to Dubow, Pisall came to her uncle’s home in Lake Ariel, Wayne County, on the morning of June 20, 2014 to buy heroin. Ogden was asleep. His daughter, Mary, woke him, and he sent her out to conduct the drug deal.
When Pisall complained that the heroin bags she bought were empty, Ogden got out of bed, pulled a loaded pistol from under his pillow, walked into the kitchen and shot Pisall in the forehead from a distance of 4 to 8 inches.
Ogden then threatened his daughter with the gun and told her to tell police the shooting was accidental, Dubow wrote.
That’s what Ogden told state police after he called 911. He claimed he had just returned from a trip to Philadelphia to buy drugs and had ingested 20 bags of heroin in the hours before the shooting. Ogden also insisted he just “wanted to scare Rebecca.”
In September 2015, a county jury convicted Ogden, now 53, on the murder count. He is serving a life prison sentence.
Ogden claimed on appeal that he should have been convicted of a lesser degree of murder because he was high when the killing occurred. The county judge who presided at his trial should have informed the jurors of the defenses of voluntary and involuntary intoxication, he argued.
There was no such error because there was no proof Ogden was so intoxicated when he shot Pisall that his sensibilities were “overwhelmed or overpowered,” Dubow’s court found. The state judges also shot down his claim that prosecutors didn’t prove he intended to kill Pisall.
Dubow likewise rejected Ogden’s plea that his conviction should be overturned because the jury convicted him too quickly. There is no such time limit on jury deliberations, she noted.
The jury deliberated for less than 10 minutes before finding Ogden guilty.