CHAMBERSBURG — A West Virginia man was sentenced to life in prison in the shooting death of a motorist on Interstate 81 in Franklin County more than 5½ years ago.
John Wayne Strawser Jr., 42, of Terra Alta, was found guilty of first-degree murder Tuesday after a trial that started last week.
The single murder charge stems from the January 2014 murder of Timothy Davison, 28. Davison had been driving home to Maine on Interstate 81 when police said Strawser opened fire and rammed his SUV, forcing it into the median, before circling back and shooting him multiple times.
Police said they believed Strawser mistook Davison’s silver SUV for that of one belonging to a husband of a Franklin County woman with whom he was infatuated and had an affair. It was this couple who gave police the tip that Strawser may have been the shooter, 16 months after the shooting occurred. According to the Chambersburg Public Opinion, the couple said during the trial that they were concerned they would be sued if they were wrong.
Strawser wasn’t charged with Davison’s death until September 2015, shortly after Strawser was charged with the shooting death of his ex-girlfriend, Amy Lou Buckingham, in West Virginia. Buckingham was killed in April 2015, after Davison’s murder.
According to the Associated Press, Tuesday’s life sentence is the second one Strawser has received. He was sentenced to life in 2016 in the slaying of Buckingham, and the Pennsylvania life term will run consecutive to that sentence.
Franklin County District Attorney Matthew Fogal had announced in October 2017 that he didn’t intend to seek the death penalty in the case, which he said was supported by Davison’s family. West Virginia abolished the death penalty in 1965.
Fogal said an agreement had been made between Pennsylvania and West Virginia to bypass some of the time restrictions on traditional extraditions in order for the case in Pennsylvania to move quickly after the West Virginia conviction.
The shooting deaths were not the first brush with the law that Strawser had. According to Sentinel reports, between 2001 and 2004, Strawser faced a number of charges from destruction of property to stalking and assault, and he was convicted of felony motor vehicle theft, making it illegal for him to possess firearms.
Police believe the gun Strawser used in both murders was found inside his home roughly two weeks before Buckingham’s death by a Preston County Sheriff’s deputy in West Virginia, but Strawser was allowed to keep the gun, despite his status as someone not allowed to possess firearms.
Strawser also had a history of court orders where multiple women sought protection from him, including one woman whose vehicle he destroyed in 2012.