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Jury trial for Tyrone doctor Barry Bender pushed to May

The criminal jury trial for a former Tyrone doctor accused of soliciting sexual favors from young boys in exchange for drugs and alcohol has been moved from the end of this month to an un-announced date in May.
Dr. Barry Bender, 55, is accused by the state attorney general’s office of holding underage parties at his Tyrone apartment. He is represented by Altoona attorney Thomas Dickey.
According to Senior Deputy Attorney General Mike Madeira, who will prosecute the case, the Blair County Court of Common Pleas recently granted a defense motion presented by Dickey to continue the case until sometime in May.
Madeira said the reason the court granted the motion was because Dickey will be defending murder suspect Marie Seilhamer, beginning April 28.
“It’s hard enough just to do a homicide trial,” said Madeira. “It would be really tough if he had to work both cases back to back. These things take time.”
A representative of the court administrators office yesterday said pre-trial conferences for Bender are scheduled to begin May 8.
Madeira expects the case to go to trial, unlike co-defendant Gilbert J. Stevenson Jr., 29, of Avis, who entered a guilty plea on March 5 in connection with the crimes.
“There hasn’t been any offers on his (Bender’s) part as far as a plea arrangement,” said Madeira. “And there hasn’t been any offer on my part. The only thing would be able to offer is an open plea. It’s a little difficult to negotiate a case like this.”
An open plea gives the sentencing judge full control of the sentencing arrangement, although prosecutors and the defense attorney can make recommendations to the court.
Stevenson’s plea agreement calls for him to enter guilty pleas to six counts of delivery of cocaine, and single charges of delivery of ecstasy, delivery of PCP, conspiracy to deliver controlled substances, providing alcohol to minors and corruption of minors. In exchange, the commonwealth will “nolle prose,” or drop, several other charges, including sexual exploitation of children.
Stevenson’s attorney, Peter Campana, said Stevenson agreed to the plea agreement because prosecutors fashioned it to exclude the sex offenses, of which he said Stevenson was innocent.
“The statutory maximum on the entire case for Stevenson equaled out to about 219 years,” said Madeira, “but the reality is the statutory maximum is just that.
“If the judge decided to stack everything on top of another, we’re probably looking along the lines of 20 years. It’s entirely up to the judge.”
However, Stevenson’s sentencing will not occur until after Bender’s trial. Madeira said if Stevenson, during Bender’s trial, decided not to cooperate with the commonwealth, the plea agreement may be rejected or the terms may change.
“We would have two choices in a situation like that,” he said. “We could either revoke the plea and go back to trial, or, more precisely, and what is likely to happen, we would tell the court that he reneged on the deal and that he shouldn’t receive any benefit because he did not cooperate.”