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Insurance company withholds life insurance payout to Greene County man who killed stepfather

| Wednesday, March 27, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

A Greene County man who was sentenced to up to 23 months in jail for involuntary manslaughter in the death of his stepfather during an argument over flowers placed on a grave wants a share of the man's life insurance proceeds.

Scott Rodeheaver, 52, of Jefferson entered a general plea of guilty to the charge in the death of Charles Rodeheaver, 69. He initially was charged with criminal homicide in connection with the fatal confrontation on Dec. 2, 2010.

The younger Rodeheaver punched the elder Rodeheaver outside the Route 40 Classic Diner in Redstone, Fayette County, causing Charles Rodeheaver to fall and strike his head on concrete, police said. The victim died six days later.

Rodeheaver was sentenced to 6 to 23 months in prison in August, but he was granted early parole in December. Judge Gerald Solomon approved early release after attorney Sam Davis of Uniontown said in a petition that Rodeheaver had an opportunity at employment upon his release.

In a motion filed in Fayette County civil court, Davis is asking a judge to enter a judgment allowing Rodeheaver to collect a portion of his stepfather's life insurance.

The insurance company, Prudential, was to pay out $17,348 in benefits to Rodeheaver's two daughters and his stepson at the time of Charles Rodeheaver's death, according to a related case filed in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh.

Prudential paid one-third shares to each of the daughters, according to the federal lawsuit, but is withholding payment of the remaining $5,782 to Scott Rodeheaver. The insurance company contends that under Pennsylvania law, Rodeheaver is not entitled to the money because he “participated in the willful and unlawful killing of another” person.

The money, according to the lawsuit, should be divided between the daughters, Cheryl Rodeheaver of Smithfield and Diane Rodeheaver of Owens Cross Roads, Ala.

In the motion filed in Fayette County, Davis contends that under Pennsylvania law, the Slayer Act does not apply to Scott Rodeheaver because he pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, which does not require the intent to kill. Only persons who take part in the “willful and unlawful killing” of another person are prohibited from benefiting financially from the person's death, Davis argues.

Davis wants a Fayette County judge to declare that Scott Rodeheaver is entitled to the life insurance money.

Liz Zemba is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or lzemba@tribweb.com.

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