Aikins is sentenced to life in jail for homicide Information, sports activities, jobs
HOLLIDAYSBURG — The Altoona man whose escape try led to the Nov. 17, 2021 deadly taking pictures of a corrections officer on the Blair County Jail will spend the remainder of his life in jail.
Aikins, 56, who in October pleaded responsible to second-degree homicide of a legislation enforcement officer and associated costs in reference to the dying of Rhonda Russell, mentioned nothing throughout Monday’s sentencing listening to in Blair County Circuit Courtroom, the place Russell’s household and pals spoke. . How they nonetheless miss her.
“She was the sister I by no means had,” mentioned Bobby Lantz, Russell’s lifelong good friend. “This gap that was torn in my soul won’t ever heal as a result of she was part of my soul. … We have been meant to develop previous collectively, and also you took that from me.
Russell’s three sons referred to the lack of their 47-year-old mom as devastating.
Justin Reeder, the eldest son, mentioned it was troublesome for him and his brothers, Richard and Eric, to confess to folks that it was their mom who was taken hostage on the Central Courthouse and killed.
“Chances are you’ll suppose you are caught behind bars for the remainder of your life, however we now have the remainder of our lives to cope with this too,” Justin Reeder mentioned.
Eric Reeder echoed these sentiments when he requested Presiding Choose Elizabeth Doyle to condemn Aikens to life in jail with out parole.
The household was additionally sentenced to life in jail, Eric Reeder mentioned.
State Police in Hollidaysburg charged Aikens with second-degree homicide and associated offenses primarily based on an investigation indicating that Aikins, in an try to flee the Central Courthouse, overpowered Russell and pushed her right into a room.
When Altoona Police Sgt. George Bestline confronted Aikens, and the district lawyer’s workplace confirmed that Aikens pointed Russell’s gun at Bestline, prompting Bestline to shoot Aikens which pushed Russell into the road of fireside.
Courtroom paperwork point out that Aikins instructed investigators that he didn’t goal at Beastline and didn’t know why Beastline was fired. However in courtroom Thursday, Aikins made no statements.
“There was nothing to say,” protection lawyer Richard Corcoran mentioned outdoors courtroom. “It’s the solely celebration that has accepted duty.”
Russell’s property filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in U.S. District Courtroom in Johnstown, naming a number of defendants, together with county and metropolis workers, as having contributed to Russell’s dying.
“There are nonetheless lots of people who have to be held accountable,” Stephanie Anthony, a Russell household good friend, mentioned outdoors courtroom after Aikins’ sentencing.
Doyle, after sentencing Aikens to life with out parole for second-degree homicide of a legislation enforcement officer, imposed concurrent jail phrases totaling 60 to 120 years for crimes together with disarming a legislation enforcement officer, theft, kidnapping, and possession of a firearm in courtroom. Facility, assault and escape.
Prosecutor Pete Weeks requested concurrent sentences. He mentioned they might guarantee Aikins remained detained, even when state legal guidelines have been modified to supply reduction for these convicted of second-degree homicide.
“It is an illustration of why some individuals have to be faraway from society,” Weeks mentioned after the sentencing listening to concluded.
In a sentencing memorandum ready for Doyle’s evaluation, Weeks famous that Aikins is a repeat offender, with convictions for quite a few burglaries, burglaries, drug trafficking, witness intimidation and firearms offences.
Weeks mentioned he was imprisoned for greater than 20 years for the crimes.
Doyle additionally instructed Aikens that he was legally and morally accountable for Russell’s dying.
“This can be a much-deserved punishment for a mindless, egocentric, predatory and opportunistic act,” Doyle mentioned.
Aikins was transported to the courtroom from the state jail in Huntingdon, the place he at present resides, and was beneath heavy safety within the courtroom, the place he remained seated and shackled. He appeared towards the entrance of the courtroom, aside from a fast flip of his head towards Russell’s fiancé, Donald LaGesse, who mentioned, “Aikins, I need you to know that you are a coward.”
Aikins’ judgment order contains restitution of $25,000 to cowl Russell’s funeral and associated bills. In gentle of the anticipated sentence, Weeks mentioned he suggested Russell’s household that funds for this restitution would probably be nominal quantities from any earnings Aikins had inside jail.
Weeks and First Assistant District Legal professional Nicole Smith, who had been ready to prosecute Aikens till he pleaded responsible on Oct. 23 as a substitute of choosing a jury, issued an announcement Monday acknowledging state police for conducting an investigation that paved the best way for sentencing.
Prosecutors additionally requested the group to take a second to acknowledge all of the legislation enforcement officers who stand between residents and criminals like Aikins.
“At the moment, in change for Officer Russell’s life, the courtroom sentenced Christopher Aikins to be housed, fed, maintained and clothed in a state correctional establishment for the rest of his pure life,” the assertion learn. “Whereas this won’t return Officer Russell to the arms of her household, it is going to hopefully present them with the straightforward consolation of figuring out that her killer won’t ever stroll free once more.”
Mirror employees author Kay Stevens is at 814-946-7456.