cheap flights from toronto to new jersey Bedford judge takes over city man’s resentencing
HOLLIDAYSBURG A Bedford County senior judge has been assigned the task of resentencing an Altoona man serving a life without parole sentence for a 1988 murder.
Taking over the case from Blair County Judge Jolene G. Kopriva, Judge Daniel Howsare held his first hearing Friday at the Blair County Courthouse to consider a request from defense attorneys on behalf of James F. Rodgers, 46, now an inmate at the State Correctional Institution at Somerset.
Rodgers was convicted in 1990 of first degree murder in the stabbing death of 72 year old Pasquale J. Lascoli of Altoona. Prosecutors said Rodgers tried to rob Lascoli, a theory based on finding Rodgers blood in the front pocket of Lascoli pants where Lascoli usually kept money. Supreme Court Miller vs. Alabama ruling.
In that case,
the high court concluded that mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles convicted of murder violate the Constitution Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.
In court Friday, Federal Public Defender Kirk Henderson asked Howsare to consider a petition he filed earlier this year, seeking to bar the county district attorney office from handling the prosecution role and let the state Attorney General Office handle the task.
Henderson said his request is based on two reasons. First, District Attorney Richard Consiglio and his staff have familiarity with two county employees who work in court related offices and are stepgrandchildren of the victim, he said.
Henderson referenced a comment Consiglio made months ago at a status conference about two people the district attorney knows who he thought were Lascoli relatives because one has the same last name. In court Friday, Consiglio said he was wrong and has since learned that the pair are no more than distant cousins of the victim.
First Assistant District Attorney Jackie Bernard took issue with Henderson request to restrict Consiglio and his staff from handling the prosecution.
She pointed out that if the judge bars the district attorney office from prosecuting because the victim has two relatives who work for the county, that sets a precedent for all other cases involving relatives of county employees.
Howsare asked Henderson what problems he foresees if the DA office is permitted to retain its role. Henderson suggested that it would be one of influence toward what he believes will be the office pursuit of a life without parole sentence for Rodgers.
think we being too harsh, Bernard told the judge.
Consiglio, to date,
has made no commitment toward seeking a specific sentence.
While life without parole is an option in Pennsylvania for juveniles convicted of murder, it been outlawed in 17 states. And in Pennsylvania, the option can only be imposed in cases where prosecutors offer evidence to show that the juvenile offender is incapable of rehabilitation.
Henderson also tried to support his argument by pointing to Kopriva decision to recuse herself from the case in favor of an out of county judge because of her familiarity with victim relatives who work for the county.
Bernard advised Howsare that the district attorney office is not governed by the same standards as a judge. The district attorney office, she said, is an advocate representing all law abiding citizens.