ShareThis Page
News

Prosecutors defend sentence in Fayette inmate's appeal

| Wednesday, May 2, 2012, 9:26 p.m.

Eighty years behind bars is an appropriate sentence for a Fayette County man convicted of using his truck to ram a motorcycle and kill two people, according to prosecutors.

Edward Allan Belch, 51, formerly of McClellandtown, is serving a 40- to 80-year sentence on two, third-degree homicide convictions in the May 10, 2005, deaths of his ex-girlfriend, Terri Gresko, and her companion, Thomas Myers.

Gresko, 44, and Myers, 54, were riding a motorcycle on Route 21 when Belch rammed the bike with his truck. A witness said that after the crash, Belch allegedly stood over Gresko's body and said, "Terri, I told you I was going to get you."

Prosecutors sought first-degree homicide convictions and had planned to ask jurors to impose the death penalty in the case.

But Belch, who argued at trial that he was too intoxicated to have formed the intent to kill, was convicted on two counts of the lesser offense of third-degree homicide.

He was sentenced in January 2007 to 20 to 40 years on each count, to be served consecutively.

In an appeal in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh, Belch claims he had ineffective trial counsel and the sentence is "manifestly excessive" because he had no prior record and was intoxicated when he struck the motorcycle.

In a response, Assistant District Attorney Anthony Iannamorelli Jr. argued neither claim has merit.

"The appellant caused two deaths and was sentenced consecutively for each," Iannamorelli wrote. "He was sentenced within the standard range, though on the extreme high end, for third-degree murder."

Iannamorelli wants the appeal to be dismissed.

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.

click me