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Juvenile lifer in Pittsburgh case still hopes for parole with 3rd sentence

Matthew Santoni
| Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017, 1:03 p.m.

A man convicted of killing a drug dealer over a $100 debt 25 years ago will seek a speedy resentencing in the hope that an Allegheny County judge will again make him eligible for immediate parole.

An attorney for Regis Seskey, 42, wants his client's third sentencing to be scheduled for Sept. 8, a month after the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled he should be given a new sentence with a maximum of life in prison but a minumum set at a judge's discretion. In a motion filed Tuesday, defense attorney Chris Eyster said his client would not appeal that decision to the state Supreme Court.

“Taking an appeal to the Supreme Court would delay this two years or more,” Eyster told the Trib. “We want to get a sentence, go before the parole board and get him out of prison.”

Seskey was 17 when he shot and killed Marc Bova on Pittsburgh's South Side in 1992. He was convicted of first-degree murder and given the then-mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole, but two U.S. Supreme Court rulings since then have found such sentences unconstitutional for defendents who were juveniles at the time of the offense.

Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Joseph K. Williams gave Seskey a new sentence of 13 to 26 years in November, making him immediately eligible for parole, but the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office appealed, keeping him in prison. In the Superior Court ruling Aug. 7, Judge Judith Ference Olson wrote that the maximum sentence for first- and second-degree murder should be life.

A state law passed after the first Supreme Court decision affecting “juvenile lifers” decreed that the minumum sentence for first- and second-degree murder by defendants between 15 and 17 years old be set at 35 years, but courts have not ruled on whether that would apply retroactively to cases like Seskey's. Eyster said it shouldn't.

“The court should not disturb that 13-year (minimum) sentence. That sentence is still a legal sentence,” he said.

Mike Manko, spokesman for District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala, declined to comment on the motion, but the DA's office has previously interpreted the minimum sentence for juveniles in first- and second-degree murder cases as falling between 25 and 35 years, depending on the defendant's age.

No new date has been set for a hearing or resentencing before Williams, according to court records.

Matthew Santoni is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724 836 6660, or via Twitter @msantoni.

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