Unity man guilty in ’90s slaying
By Rich Cholodofsky
Published: Tuesday, October 30, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
Updated: Tuesday, October 30, 2012
A Unity man pleaded guilty on Monday to killing his sister's boyfriend two decades ago, ending the mystery of what happened to Curtis Eutsey, who was 18 when he was last seen in 1990.
Robert Daniels, 44, told Judge Al Bell that he wanted to plead guilty to a single count of third-degree murder to ensure he will avoid a life sentence and be able to spend time with his unborn grandchildren.
“I just think it is in my best interest, going over the evidence, and that I don't want to be convicted of first-degree murder. I have grandkids on the way, and I want to be around someday for that. I just want a life — do my time and go home,” Daniels said.
Westmoreland County prosecutors had sought a first-degree murder conviction against Daniels, which carries a mandatory life prison sentence.
By pleading guilty to third-degree murder, Daniels faces a maximum of 10 to 20 years in prison under an older version of the state crimes code.
Eutsey, who was last seen walking from his girlfriend's home, was killed between April 1, 1990, and Nov. 26, 1992, according to the prosecution.
Investigators said Daniels confessed to his role in the killing after Eutsey's bones were discovered by two men looking for scrap metal in a wooded section of Mt. Pleasant Township in March 2010.
Police claimed Daniels said he drove Eutsey to a spot on Misty Meadows Road and the two walked about 20 yards into the dense woods. A shotgun was fired, and the flash lit the face of his cousin, Tim Daniels, Robert Daniels told police.
According to police, Robert Daniels said Tim Daniels had threatened him if he told anyone what happened.
Assistant District Attorney Wayne Gongaware said on Monday that no charges are pending against Tim Daniels.
“We can't charge him. The only evidence against Tim Daniels is what this guy (Robert Daniels) says. There is no other corroborating evidence, so I can't see how we can charge him,” Gongaware said.
State police Cpl. Michael McElfresh testified on Monday that Robert Daniels was a suspect immediately after Eutsey was reported as missing.
Daniels' sister, Penny Daniels, told police in 1994 that two years earlier, Robert Daniels told her that Eutsey was murdered. Penny Daniels and Eutsey were dating at the time.
“She said Robert Daniels left with Curtis Eutsey and returned 20 minutes later, hysterical, and said he killed Curtis,” McElfresh testified.
Daniels initially told police he drove Eutsey to the bus station and never saw him again, according to McElfresh. It was not until 2010, when Eutsey's bones were identified using DNA analysis, that Daniels confessed, the trooper testified.
Eutsey's family members were in court on Monday.
Ken Eutsey, 47, of Mill Run last saw his younger brother in 1984 when he joined the military. He struggled to fight back tears outside the courtroom following Daniels' guilty plea.
“He was so young. It's hard. At least when I didn't know, there was hope. Hope is something I'll never have again,” Eutsey said.
Bell said he will sentence Daniels in about three months.
Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or email@example.com.
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