Judge recommends denial of western Pa. man's bid to have charges in 1987 slaying dismissed

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UNIONTOWN, Pennsylvania — A federal magistrate judge is recommending that a former western Pennsylvania man remain incarcerated until he can be retried on a 27-year-old homicide charge, which the magistrate is recommending shouldn't be dismissed.

Fifty-two-year-old Mark Breakiron, of Hopwood, was convicted in Fayette County and sentenced to death in the 1987 slaying of waitress Saundra Martin. Prosecutors allege that he stabbed the 24-year-old Smithfield woman 20 times and cut her throat before stealing her purse and bags of money from Shenanigan's Lounge in German Township.

A federal judge in 2011 overturned the conviction, citing tainted testimony from another inmate. Breakiron's attorneys have claimed "prosecutorial misconduct" during his trial was so serious that he shouldn't be retried.

But the magistrate is recommending that a presiding federal judge rejects Breakiron's contention that retrying him would violate his constitutional rights.

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