New Castle News

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June 27, 2014

Killer could get out of prison — in 30 years

SHARON — A local judge gave Anthony Machicote a 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.

This week, Mercer County Common Pleas Court Judge Thomas R. Dobson resentenced Machicote, 27, to life in prison with the possibility of parole, but recommended 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 juveniles.

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 both 17 at the time of Urey’s death on Nov. 10, 2003. Each pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

There was 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 the murder.

An escape from George Junior was planned and Machicote and Melvin returned to Urey after he had been 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Just like any other teenager, I did things,” he said. “I made bad choices.”

Machicote said he has learned to think before he reacts.

“I wasn’t really mature. 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.”

Dobson agreed with Machicote the death was unintentional and concluded Melvin probably was more responsible than Machicote.

But he noted Urey had suffered “horrendous” injuries.

While he believes Machicote can change and be productive, Dobson said, the brutality of the crime requires a long prison term.

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