Man gets time served in 1980 Pa. firebomb killings
GETTYSBURG, Pa. (AP) -- A man who broke three decades of silence and helped authorities bring charges in a central Pennsylvania firebombing and the shooting deaths of two residents has been sentenced to time served after pleading to a lesser charge.
Ruperto Garcia Jr., 48, of Harrisburg will immediately be eligible for parole following Monday's plea in Adams County Court, the Gettysburg Times ( http://bit.ly/1gh6fZ3 ) reported.
Prosecutors said Garcia was 15 years old in August 1980 when two men firebombed a Freedom Township home and shot 41-year-old Nancy Patterson and her 17-year-old daughter Deborah Patterson to death as they fled the blaze.
Erasmo Cruz, 56, a former boyfriend of the younger victim, pleaded guilty last month to third-degree murder in the slayings as part of an agreement calling for a sentence of 16 to 40 years in prison.
Before sentencing, Garcia and defense attorney David Erhard said he had spent a lifetime living in fear of Cruz, and that will continue even after he is freed.
"When we were young, we all had that monster we thought about at night," Erhard said. "For Ruperto, that monster was Erasmo Cruz and it was and still is very real. ... Ruperto is a full grown man reduced to a frightened child."
Garcia, who appeared shaken and wept for much of Monday's proceeding, said that even coming to the courtroom he was afraid that one of Cruz's relatives would be waiting there to kill him.
"I have to go back to Harrisburg now. If I do get killed, at least I'll know I did the right thing," he said.
Garcia was charged with two counts of criminal homicide and one count each of burglary, arson and conspiracy to commit burglary, but pleaded only to the burglary conspiracy charge.
District Attorney Shawn Wagner said state police and prosecutors believe Garcia wasn't involved in planning or carrying out the murders and cited his cooperation beginning in 2010.
"Mr. Garcia has cooperated fully throughout this investigation," he said. "He gave us the final evidence we needed to bring charges against Erasmo Cruz."
Federal marshals tracked Cruz to a village in Puerto Rico, where he was apprehended last year and extradited to Pennsylvania.
Police have said a third suspect is behind bars on unrelated charges and a fourth suspect has died. A relative of one of the victims was originally charged but acquitted at trial.
Information from: Gettysburg Times, http://www.gettysburgtimes.com