Sentences doled out for Harrison residents convicted in involuntary manslaughter of disabled roommate
By Adam Brandolph
Published: Thursday, July 18, 2013, 4:57 p.m.
When Larry Duff offered to care for his disabled older brother, Ronald, he was not prepared for the 24-hour job it would become.
“I think he was a little naive,” his lawyer, public defender Matthew Dugan, said on Thursday. “He didn't have the knowledge, the experience or the capability to know what he was getting into. ... He clearly lacked the experience to care for someone in Ronald's condition.”
Frustrations grew so great that on Oct. 14, Larry Duff and Jason Link, a man with whom the Duffs shared their Harrison home, beat Ronald Duff with their fists and a wooden stick because he spilled a bowl of soup.
The next morning, they found him unresponsive, moved him to the sofa and told a 911 operator that he fell down the stairs.
In April, Link, 22, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault. Duff, 57, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and neglect of care.
On Thursday, Allegheny County Common Pleas President Judge Donna Jo McDaniel sentenced Link to serve 36 to 72 months in prison and ordered Larry Duff to serve 22 to 44 months in prison. Both men will receive eight months credit for time served and spend five years on probation following their incarceration.
“We have two opposite ends of the spectrum in this case,” McDaniel said. ”We have two gentlemen who have not really been in trouble … but they both committed a vicious attack on another human being that led to his death.”
Duff has been distraught since the incident, Dugan said. He lost 50 pounds since October and was diagnosed with depression.
“This case has had a dramatic effect on his life. When he learned he was charged with criminal homicide, he was petrified,” he said. “This is a terrible case. Every meeting I have with Mr. Duff ends with him in tears.”
Duff expressed remorse and sadness that he would be in jail for his daughter's 16th birthday.
“I'm really sad,” he said. “I take responsibility for what happened.”
Richard Narvin, head of the Allegheny County Office of Conflict Counsel, told the judge that Link is “capable of contributing to society.”
“I'm sorry for what I did,” Link said.
Shortly before the sentencing hearing, Lisa Duff, 40, pleaded no contest to charges that she helped her husband move her brother-in-law's body from the second floor to a sofa on the first floor.
McDaniel ordered her to serve six to 12 months in jail with credit for 150 days spent incarcerated.
Adam Brandolph is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-391-0927 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Alle-Kiski Valley schools improve statewide scores
- Judge allows evidence in case against New Ken-Arnold teacher
- Avonmore mayor files EEOC harassment case against council
- Springdale officer who resigned to receive severance
- Buffalo Township real estate taxes to rise by almost 30%
- South Butler hires company to perform security audit of buildings, train staff
- Washington Township approves tax-neutral $2.6M budget
- Apollo Elks reopens after reaching agreement with national organization
- West Deer man accused of sexual contact with pre-teen ordered to trial
- Lower Valley families will benefit from friendly competition to collect food
- Classic novel, new film share similar titles, not much else