3 Fayette men convicted as juveniles won't get new sentence hearings
By Liz Zemba
Published: 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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