The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Breaking News

Local News

June 25, 2014

GJR killer could get out of prison – in 30 years

PINE TOWNSHIP — A local judge on Tuesday gave Anthony Machicote a small ray of hope that he could someday be let out of prison.

Machicote has been serving a prison term of life without parole for his role in the death of Wayne Urey Jr., a night supervisor at George Junior Republic, the residential treatment center for boys in Pine Township.

Mercer County Common Pleas Court Judge Thomas R. Dobson resentenced Machicote, 27, to life in prison with the possibility of parole, but recommended that he not have his first parole hearing until after he has turned 58.

Dobson issued a new sentence because of a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court case in which the justices said it is unconstitutional for a state to enact a law mandating life in prison without the possibility of parole for juvenile offenders.

Such a sentence can be handed down, but only after a judge has considered the defendant’s age, the circumstances of the case and other mitigating factors, Dobson said.

Machicote and his co-defendant, Jeremy Melvin, were each 17 at the time of Urey’s death, Nov. 10, 2003. Each pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

There was a lot of discussion among the judge, attorneys, Machicote and witnesses as to Machicote’s level of maturity now and at the time Urey was beaten and gagged, and suffocated.

Dobson questioned Machicote about the crime, his prison jobs, his family, his education, his participation in juvenile-treatment programs and his religious beliefs.

Mercer County District Attorney Robert G. Kochems argued Machicote was “all but an adult” at the time of Urey’s murder.

Machicote had family support, and his siblings, who were raised in the same family situation, succeeded in life, Kochems said.

Machicote showed signs of maturity while in a previous juvenile- treatment center, becoming a leader and a counselor, and earning release at his minimum date, Kochems said.

Once he was released, Machicote got a job.

“He was doing what you would expect a normal 17-year-old to do, except he was a criminal,” Kochems said.

Machicote had juvenile adjudications for arson and car theft, and ran away from home when his mother suspected him of smoking marijuana.

The escape from George Junior was planned about two days ahead of time, and Machicote and Melvin returned to Urey after he was tied up, but did not try to help him when he was showing signs of distress, Kochems said.

“This should be a case of life in prison without parole,” he said.

Speaking for the Urey family, Michael T. Muha, Urey’s cousin, said Urey’s parents have died of illnesses that family members believed are tied to Urey’s death.

Muha, a Hickory High School graduate, said the death of his cousin “gave me the itch” to become a lawyer, and the family has become closer.

“I would do everything I could to have him (Urey) back for one day,” Muha said. “It is the family’s position that he (Machicote) should remain in prison for the rest of his life.”

Defense attorney Ryan Mergl argued Machicote’s juvenile convictions show his immaturity, and he said Machicote planned the escape to return to his family in Homewood.

“They did not act out to murder a supervisor,” he said.

“Given the right job and the right chances, he could be a productive member of society,” Mergl said.

Machicote’s mother, Helen Machicote Starcher, argued her son was not ready to function independently when he was 17.

“I lost him to his friends, peer pressure, wanting to fit in,” she said.

While in prison, he has “grown up,” she said, and he wishes he had listened to her teaching when he was a teen.

“I don’t want to see him grow old and die inside,” she said.

Machicote argued Kochems’ examples of apparent maturity do not include the proper context.

Speaking of his time in the juvenile detention facility at which he was a counselor and leader, Machicote said, “Just like any other teenager, I did things,” he said. “I just didn’t get caught. I made bad choices.”

Machicote said he has learned to think before he reacts.

“I wasn’t really mature,” he said. “The person I was then is not who I am now.”

Dobson said it was difficult determining a sentence for Machicote. State law does not provide any sentencing guidelines, and the U.S. Supreme Court spoke in “generalities.” The Miller decision “doesn’t set forth what must be considered,” he said.

Dobson agreed with Machicote that the death was unintentional and concluded that Melvin probably was more responsible for Urey’s death than Machicote was.

But, he added, t Urey suffered “horrendous” injuries. While he believes Machicote can change and be productive, the brutality of the crime requires a long prison term, Dobson said.

Machicote has been in custody since Nov. 10, 2003, all of that time credited toward the completion of his sentence.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Couple, another man charged in thefts

    Pennsylvania State Police have filed charges of burglary, theft, receiving stolen property and criminal mischief against an East Palestine, Ohio, couple and another man in connection with two robberies in rural Mercer County.

    July 22, 2014

  • Taking stock Where’s the beef? Bull’s still missing

    Is it possible that an alien abduction took place in the Mercer area last week? A solid red, 2-year-old Watusi bull with 3-foot-long horns has been missing since July 14 with no trace of its existence left on earth.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Buhl Day honorees

    The Buhl Day committee has chosen for this year’s celebration five honored guests whose volunteer work they feel best showcases the legacy of philanthropic work left behind by Frank and Julia Buhl a century ago.

    July 22, 2014

  • GC pair not hurt in accident injuring 2

    Two drivers were taken to a hospital after an accident at the intersection of state routes 965 and 173 in Worth Township, police said.

    July 21, 2014

  • WaterFire crowds WaterFire doused

    Sharon’s WaterFire wasn’t lacking either of its elements on Saturday. There was steady, day-long rain but the day concluded with the Shenango River ablaze.

    July 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • ‘Starved’ boy released from hospital

    A 7-year-old boy allegedly starved and beaten by his mother is out of the hospital and ordered out of his Greenville home by Mercer County Common Pleas President Judge Thomas R. Dobson.

    July 20, 2014

  • WaterFire walking tour Time traveling

    A group of more 50 people walked between the raindrops Saturday during an historical tour of downtown Sharon during the city’s WaterFire celebration.

    July 20, 2014 6 Photos 1 Story

  • News briefs from July 19, 2014

    Michigan man charged with assaulting girl here

    Sharon man charged with raping woman

    July 19, 2014

  • For sale Realty transfer tax hike headed for ballot

    Sharon voters will be deciding through a referendum whether city council can raise the realty transfer tax. Council gave first reading Thursday to an ordinance that phrases the question that will be printed on the November ballot.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bella recovering Vet: Dog lucky to be alive, should survive

    Although a veterinarian said an underweight dog found Thursday with a gruesome neck wound was lucky to be alive, her prognosis for recovery is good.

    July 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • Alleged hit-run driver arrested

    Sharon police said Friday afternoon they had arrested a man believed to have driven a vehicle that struck an 11-year-old boy Thursday and left the scene.

    July 19, 2014

  • Boy ‘was being starved’

    A 7-year-old Greenville boy described as looking like a human skeleton had been starved and beaten by his mother for a year, authorities are saying.

    July 19, 2014

  • Corruption case puts ex-youth leader in rehab program

    The former commander of the local Civil Air Patrol squadron has been admitted into a diversionary program to resolve a criminal case, but the conditions of the program all but forbid his involvement with CAP, his attorney said.

    July 18, 2014

  • GACT’s ‘Steel Magnolias’ opens tonight at Thiel

    Beauty parlor gossip, southern drawls and big hair may sound out of place for Mercer County, but it’s very much a real scene in Thiel College’s William Robinson Theater.

    July 18, 2014

  • Police seek hit-and-run driver who struck boy

    A boy riding a Mongoose bike on Second Avenue in Sharon Thursday evening was struck straight on by a truck whose driver never hit the brakes or looked back, witnesses said.

    July 18, 2014