Raymond Rowe, who is trying withdraw to his guilty plea for the 1992 rape and murder of Christy Mirack, now claims to have met the schoolteacher at the Chameleon, where he DJed, and says they had had a brief sexual relationship.
Rowe had testified two weeks ago at a Lancaster County Court hearing about how he met Mirack. LNP | LancasterOnline wasn’t in the courtroom for his complete testimony, but has since obtained a court transcript.
Rowe, the once-popular local entertainer known as DJ Freez, is scheduled to be back in court Wednesday as the hearing concludes with what is expected to be its final witness: a Pennsylvania State Police crime lab expert. Judge Dennis Reinaker is expected to rule later whether Rowe can withdraw his plea; if Rowe does, a trial would be scheduled.
On the first day of the hearing, on Aug. 26, Rowe testified that he met Mirack when she came up to his DJ booth at Chameleon a couple of months before her death.
They talked multiple times, leading to a sexual encounter in his car, he testified. They had sex two other times at her house, when no one esle was home, he said.
Rowe and Mirack kept the affair a secret because both were in other relationships, he testified.
They had sex again on Dec. 21, 1992, at her house, he testified. She was alive when he left to work and he learned she had been killed that evening on the news, he testified.
“At first when I heard it … was, like, did somebody do it, did she commit suicide? I didn't know until I saw the circumstances unfold on TV. So I was pretty shocked, scared, nervous,” Rowe testified.
Fear kept him from going to police, he said.
“ … I didn't want to be implicated in something like that. I was also with a girl, so if I was going to come forward now my relationship would be instantly over,” Rowe testified.
Rowe had never been a suspect in the killing until 2018, when genetic genealogy led detectives to Rowe; crime scene DNA matched DNA that Rowe’s half sister uploaded to a public genealogy database.
Rowe pleaded guilty to rape, murder and related charges on Jan. 8, 2019. The plea took the possibility of the death penalty off the table and avoided a trial in exchange for a sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole and an additional 60-120 years tacked on.
Several factors played into Rowe’s decision to plead guilty, according to hearing testimony. They included Rowe saying he was worn down by conditions at Lancaster County Prison, fear of being on death row, and claims that county’s top prosecutor at the time was prepared to file charges in another, unrelated crime, for which Rowe did not want the details to become public.
Pleading guilty in the Mirack case resulted in those other charges never being filed, according to testimony.
The nature of the charges was not disclosed during testimony by Rowe’s former defense attorneys last Thursday as part of the hearing, but Rowe’s testimony on the first day of the hearing may provide a clue.
Rowe testified that Patricia Spotts, one of his attorneys, told him Stedman was going to say Rowe had molested a child.
When told on Tuesday what Rowe had testified to on Aug. 26, Spotts said that conversation never happened.
Spotts and Rowe’s other attorney were testifying under subpoena about the nature of their discussions with Rowe regarding his case and plea. Because Rowe is challenging his conviction, attorney-client privilege was waived.
District Attorney Heather Adams said she is aware of the nature of the allegations but would not comment on them.
In general, and not speaking specifically about Rowe’s case, Adams said, “anytime a defendant would be allowed to withdraw a plea that was entered pursuant to a plea bargain the Commonwealth is no longer bound by those terms. Each party is essentially back to square one.”
Rowe wants to withdraw his plea in part because he says he learned things about the investigation that he was unaware of before the November 2019 episode of “On the Case with Paula Zahn.” Had he known them, he said, he wouldn’t have pleaded guilty in 2019.
Rowe claims he learned from the show that investigators had been looking into whether a peeping Tom was responsible.
The Lancaster County District Attorney’s office, which opposes Rowe’s bid to withdraw his plea, said investigators had turned over information about the peeping Tom and to Rowe’s defense attorneys after his 2018 arrest.