Steven Slutzker

Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
Date of Crime:  December 28, 1975

Steven Slutzker was convicted of the murder of twenty-nine-year-old John Mudd. Slutzker was a suspect in the murder because he had had an affair with Mudd's wife, Arlene. However, Slutzker had a clear alibi that put him miles away from the killing. Slutzker was in McKeesport with alibi witnesses, his van there was covered with newly fallen snow, and there were no foot tracks near the van or near his home across the street from the murder scene. At the time of the murder, the victim's son, John Mudd, Jr, was five years old. In 1990, 15 years later, Mudd, Jr. claimed he had a flashback episode in which repressed memories of the murder flooded his mind. In the flashback he identified Slutzker as the killer. In 1992, a prosecutor used Mudd Jr.'s testimony and some questionable eyewitness testimony to convict Slutzker of the murder.

Other evidence casts doubt on Slutzker's conviction: (1) Domenic Mangano, a Wilkinsburg police officer said Mudd Jr. was asleep on a couch when he arrived. He added the child didn't wake up until after he carried him down the street. He said Mudd Jr. had no idea his father had been killed. (2) Mudd Jr. said he did not know who Slutzker was until police suggested his name to him. However, a counselor from Catholic Social Services said she was present when Mudd Jr.'s relatives repeatedly told him Slutzker killed his father. She said Mudd Jr. told her that when he turned 21 years old, “he would kill him.” Mudd, Jr. was 21 years old when he reported his flashback episode.

At trial, Slutzker's lawyer failed to present Slutzker's alibi witnesses. The lawyer told Slutzker that his money would be better spent hiring experts to combat Mudd Jr.'s testimony than on paying to transport his alibi witnesses from their home in Texas. According to a juror, the jury did not believe Mudd Jr.'s testimony. But they did believe the testimony of a cop and a neighbor who said they saw Slutzker talking with Arlene Mudd in front of her house immediately after the murder. Withheld police reports showed that Arlene was actually seen talking to a different neighbor.

In 2003, Slutzker was granted a retrial because his lawyer failed to call key alibi witnesses and because the prosecution withheld numerous police reports from the defense. At retrial in 2007, the alibi witnesses provided videotaped testimony. But the retrial jury apparently believed Mudd Jr. The prosecutor suggested that Slutzker left foot tracks in the snow, but they were blown away by the wind. The retrial jury convicted Slutzker. According to a juror, the jury “didn't convict on any one thing, but how it all fit together.” The loss of 30-plus years since the murder seemed to diminish the value of Slutzker's alibi witnesses and to increase the willingness of prosecution witnesses to remember events falsely.  [10/07]


Reference:  Innocence Institute

Posted in:  Victims of the State, Western Pennsylvania Cases