Share This Page

3 Fayette men convicted as juveniles won't get new sentence hearings

| Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Three former Fayette County men serving life sentences for homicides they committed when they were juveniles have been denied new sentencing hearings.

The men sought the hearings based on a U.S. Supreme Court finding in June 2012 that life sentences for juveniles are unconstitutional, amounting to cruel and unusual punishment.

In orders handed down this week, two judges dismissed the men's petitions, citing an Oct. 30 Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision that found the U.S. Supreme Court's finding is not retroactive to sentences imposed before June 2012.

Judge Conrad Capuzzi's order applies to the 1980 case of Courtney T. Richardson, 50.

Richardson was convicted of first-degree homicide in 1981 for the Aug. 15, 1980, death of Charles Victor Lent, 60. Richardson, who was 17 at the time, fatally kicked Lent and pummeled him with rocks during a robbery, court records show.

An 18-year-old accomplice, Donald Lee Smith, was convicted of first-degree homicide and sentenced to life in prison.

The other two orders were issued by President Judge John F. Wagner Jr. in cases from 1976 and 1992.

In the 1976 case, Terrance Lee Kronk, 54, formerly of Masontown, is serving a life sentence for the shooting death of a 71-year-old man.

Kronk was 17 in the summer of 1975 when he and two other juveniles entered the Gallatin home of Ben Fell to burglarize it. Kronk shot Fell three times with a small-caliber handgun when the man returned home unexpectedly.

Fell died of his wounds several days later.

Kronk pleaded guilty to homicide in November 1976. He was sentenced to life without parole in January 1977, according to court records.

In the 1992 case, Joseph H. Metts, 39, was convicted of first-degree murder in May 1993 in the fatal shooting of Fayette County corrections officer Piper Newland, 40, in Uniontown. Metts was 17 at the time.

No dismissal orders have been issued for a fourth man who was seeking a new sentencing hearing, Christopher M. Duncan.

Duncan, 25, was convicted of first-degree murder in 2006 in the fatal shooting of 19-year-old Michael Jointer. Jointer was shot once in the head on Jan. 31, 2005, by Duncan, who was 16 at the time, at Coolspring and Dunlap streets in Uniontown, according to court records.

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

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.