by Irvin Muchnick
Proponents of ending more than three decades of “justice delayed” in the Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka murder case (and “justice delayed,” as the axiom goes, is tantamount to “justice denied”) are heartened by the motion to Judge Maria Dantos by District Attorney James Martin to bypass a preliminary hearing and get on with things. The supporting brief can be read at http://muchnick.net/snukabypasspetition.pdf. A hearing on the motion is set for October 7.
One aspect of the prosecution’s move, however, continues to puzzle and grate: Why the 32-year delay, in the first place, in pressing the charges of third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the May 1983 death of Nancy Argentino at the old George Washington Motor Lodge in the Allentown suburb of Whitehall?
In particular, what happened between June 1983 and June 2013? The former date is when the then-district attorney, William Platt, effectively shut down the investigation. The latter date is when the local newspaper’s “cold case” story backed the efforts of Nancy’s sisters and this reporter to finally impanel a grand jury to revisit the long-known overwhelming evidence pointing to Snuka’s guilt.
The through line in this generation-long saga is Detective Gerald Procanyn — who lied to me about the strength of the case and other matters in our 1992 interview, and who now has emerged, in his boss Martin’s choice of words, as the “tenacious” county investigator (incidentally also appearing to be double-dipping on his Whitehall Township police retirement pension) who brought the Snuka case back from the dead.
For that reason, we are publishing next, as a dedicated post, complete chronological links to our coverage of Procanyn’s role. Let it serve as a guide for the perplexed, both within and without the criminal justice infrastructure of Lehigh County, whose principals continue to resist the large amount of explaining they owe the public.