Unity man gets up to 16 years for death of teen found in woods
Robert Daniels of Unity was an exemplary husband and father for the past two decades, his family told a Westmoreland County judge.
But Judge Al Bell said that cannot outweigh the fact that Daniels lured a young man to his death more than 20 years ago and then kept silent.
On Thursday, Bell sentenced Daniels, 44, to serve eight to 16 years in prison for the murder of 18-year-old Curtis Eutsey.
“This court doubts if Mr. Daniels is released he will commit another crime. But no crime is greater than killing another human being,” Bell said. “We in America are becoming a third-world country. We don't hold human life in high regard. I don't know why that is happening.”
Daniels pleaded guilty in October to a reduced charge of third-degree homicide to avoid a potential sentence of life in prison had he been convicted of first-degree homicide.
Daniels confessed to his role in the killing after Eutsey's bones were discovered by two men looking for scrap metal in a wooded area of Mt. Pleasant Township in March 2010, prosecutors said.
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.
Daniels confessed to police that he drove Eutsey to a spot on Misty Meadows Road and the two walked about 20 yards into the woods. A shotgun was fired, and the flash lit the face of his cousin, Tim Daniels, who allegedly threatened Robert Daniels if details of the shooting were revealed.
No charges will be filed against Tim Daniels, prosecutors said.
Robert Daniels was considered a suspect in 1994, when his sister, Penny, told police that her boyfriend, Eutsey, had been murdered. She said her brother told her about the killing.
Eutsey's adoptive mother, Beatrice Eutsey, sobbed in court Thursday when she talked about his long-forgotten remains.
“I'll don't think I'll ever get over it. I think of him all the time. If I knew Curtis was out in that cold, down in that gully, I would have died,” Beatrice Eutsey said in court.
Daniels' family pleaded for mercy.
Defense lawyers said he deserved a break because of the life he built after Eutsey's murder.
Daniels said little during the hearing, but he did apologize to the Eutsey family.
“I'm sorry for their loss. Through Jesus Christ I finally found he has forgiven me, and that's what I needed. Whatever you feel to give me, that's what I've got to do,” Daniels told the judge.
Bell sentenced Daniels under guidelines in place in the early 1990s. He could have received a maximum of 20 years in prison.
“As a parent, I can't imagine what it is like to have your child taken from you and not know what happened. Mr. Daniels had 20 years to come forward, and he didn't,” Bell said.
Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or firstname.lastname@example.org.