The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

June 6, 2014

Huey sentenced, Walko’s wife angry

FARRELL — Jennifer Walko was angry when she left the courtroom Thursday after learning that one of three men involved in the shooting death of her husband, Andrew, last May might be out of prison by early next year.

“I don’t know how they’re giving pleas,” Walko said. “They are showing people they can do this again and again and get away with it.”

Miguel Julians Huey, 27, was sentenced to 1 to 3 years in state prison, less 388 days already served, after he pleaded guilty in April to conspiracy to commit robbery.

The sentence is conditional based on Huey’s testimony against the other two men allegedly involved – Shawn Edward Lee, 28, of Masury, and Zachariah Ryan Owens, 28, of Sharon.

“They have a right to feel there’s been an injustice,” Mercer County District Attorney, Robert G. Kochems, said in reference to Walko’s family. “We initially believed he (Huey) was the shooter. He wouldn’t have gotten the deal if we thought he was the shooter.”

As a result of Huey’s guilty plea, the commonwealth dropped charges of second- and third-degree murder, criminal homicide, robbery, five counts of aggravated assault, carrying a firearm without a license, making terroristic threats and unlawful restraint.

“Sometimes you make compromises,” Kochems said. “The judge agrees, too. He thought it was reasonable.”

Walko said she believed her son, Nicholas Verrill, whose house Huey and his co-conspirators tried to rob, when he testified that Huey beat him up and held a gun to his head with a masked man that night.

“He is the killer,” Walko said of Huey. “This is a case of whatever squeaks gets the oil and Huey is the wheel – he’s trying to save his ass.”

Huey told the court he was sorry for what happened. He apologized to the Walko family and his own family.

“I grieve every night about it,” Huey said. “I hope Mr. Walko can find peace.”

Huey will remain in Mercer County Jail until the preliminary hearing of Owens and Lee, scheduled for July 1 at the Mercer County Courthouse for security reasons.

Walko was disappointed that her letter to the judge was not read aloud and that she did not have a chance to address the court.

“I just wanted people to know what a good man my Andy was,” Walko said.

Walko says she visits Andy’s grave every two to three days to tell him how sorry she is.

“This taunts me every day of my life,” Walko said. “I wish it was me.”

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