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Allegheny

Judge vacates bond offer for Pittsburgh 'juvenile lifer'

Renatta Signorini
| Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016, 5:18 p.m.

A Pittsburgh man will have to wait longer to be released from prison after his life sentence was reduced this week.

Allegheny County Judge David Cashman on Tuesday vacated an order he made a day earlier that granted Richard “Ricky” Olds, 51, bond. Cashman resentenced him Monday to 20 years to life in connection with the 1979 fatal shooting of a postal worker on Pittsburgh's North Side.

Olds has served 37 years of a mandatory life sentence.

He was 14 at the time of the shooting of Thomas Beitler and testified during trial that he ran away when he saw a co-defendant point a gun at the victim.

“It's a disgrace,” said Olds' attorney, Marc Bookman, director of The Atlantic Center for Capital Representation. “(Prosecutors') inability to recognize this injustice shocked the conscience.”

The U.S. Supreme Court in 2012 struck down mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles, deeming their adult sentences “cruel and unusual punishments.”

In January, the court ruled that the prohibition was retroactive.

Pennsylvania has more than 500 “juvenile lifers,” the most in the nation.

Bookman and attorney Wendy Williams argued during Olds' resentencing hearing that their client should be freed from supervision, requesting a sentence that would amount to time served. They are appealing the 20 years to life sentence, which was recommended by Deputy District Attorney Ron Wabby.

Cashman granted bond pending the defense appeal. But Wabby appealed that decision, thwarting Olds' immediate release.

He is incarcerated at SCI-Somerset.

Mike Manko, spokesman for the District Attorney's Office, said his office doesn't have the authority to permit the release of juvenile lifers.

“The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has been clear both in indicating that these defendants deserve a lesser sentence and in directing the state parole board to determine the logistics regarding the release of these defendants once their minimum time under the new sentence has been served,” he said in an email.

Bookman did not know how quickly Olds might be able to appear before the state parole board.

Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com.

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