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Pair plead guilty in death of disabled Harrison man

| Friday, April 12, 2013, 1:31 a.m.
Larry Duff on July 18, 2013, was sentenced to serve at least 22 months in prison for his role in the October 2012 beating death of his disabled brother, Ronald Duff, in their Harrison home.
Jason Link on July 18, 2013, was sentenced to serve at least 3 years in prison for his role in the October 2012 beating death of a disabled man, Ronald Duff, in their Harrison home.

Two men charged with killing a disabled man in his Harrison home pleaded guilty Thursday to involuntary manslaughter.

Larry Duff, 57, and Jason Link, 22, were accused in the beating death of Ronald Duff, 61, in a house they all shared. The Duffs are brothers.

Duff and Link are scheduled to be sentenced before Allegheny County Common Pleas President Judge Donna Jo McDaniel on July 18.

Investigators said the men beat Ronald Duff with their fists and a wooden stick on Oct. 14 after the mentally challenged man spilled a bowl of soup on the floor.

The next morning, they found Ronald Duff unresponsive and told a 911 operator that he fell down the stairs.

Police arrived to find Ronald Duff “severely malnourished” and living in “deplorable” conditions, according to a criminal complaint.

In addition to involuntary manslaughter, Link pleaded guilty to aggravated assault for using a battery-operated Taser on Ronald Duff when he had outbursts. Larry Duff also pleaded guilty to neglect of a care-dependent person.

As part of a plea deal, prosecutors agreed their sentences would be in the standard guideline range. Link faces 3 to 4 12 years in prison. Duff could get 2 to 3 years in prison.

Mike Manko, spokesman for the Allegheny County District Attorney's office, said the office would have no comment on the case at this time.

Prosecutors said Ronald Duff had moved in with his brother's family from a nursing home a few months before the incident and Larry Duff was collecting his brother's Social Security checks.

Larry Duff's wife, Lisa Duff, is charged with neglect of a care-dependent person, simple assault and tampering with evidence. Her trial, also set for Thursday, was postponed. A new date has not been set.

Adam Brandolph is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-391-0927 or abrandolph@tribweb.com.

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