MERCER – Roy Lee Johnson will effectively spend the rest of his life in prison with the sentence he was given Friday, Mercer County District Attorney Peter C. Acker said.
Johnson, 54, of New Castle, pleaded guilty in July to third-degree murder and felony weapons charges for the Jan. 29, 2018, shooting death of Sierra Nicole Madison-Clark, 30, of New Castle, behind Tony's Pizza, 628 Stambaugh Ave., Sharon.
In exchange for his plea, Common Pleas Judge Daniel P. Wallace sentenced Johnson to 27 to 54 years in prison.
"He's effectively going to be in jail for the rest of his life because he was 53 when he committed the crime," Acker said. "He'll be 80 when he's eligible for parole consideration at the latest."
A number of family members made comments toward Johnson at the sentencing hearing Friday morning.
"They talked about the impact of her absence," Acker said. "The fact that she won't be there for a number of important things in their lives. It's a tragedy."
Johnson could be seen on video Jan. 29, 2018, shooting at Madison-Clark behind the Sharon restaurant.
Sharon police detective Sgt. Ryan Chmura described what police believe happened that night at Johnson's preliminary hearing in February 2018.
Chmura testified that Johnson had a second girlfriend who also lived in New Castle, and that the defendant went to her residence after the shooting. Chmura said Johnson told the woman that police were looking for him because he had killed someone.
An autopsy report indicated that Madison-Clark was shot three times.
Surveillance video from the pizza shop showed muzzle flashes in the car and a 30-second pause, when police believe Johnson was arranging items in the car to make the shooting look like a robbery.
The video also showed a man resembling the defendant holding a gun. The man shot Madison-Clark a third time while standing outside the passenger side of the car, Chmura said, adding that the man appeared to be wearing a gray sweatsuit.
Chmura testified that Johnson was wearing a gray sweatsuit when he arrived that night at UPMC Jameson Hospital in New Castle to be treated for a gunshot wound to his wrist. Police believe the wound was self-inflicted.
Gerald Clark, Madison-Clark's father, said previously that the family was close friends with Johnson's family. He said that Johnson would come to the house and they would feed him. He said his daughter even supported Johnson by accompanying him to his mother's funeral in South Carolina.
Acker said when a defendant enters a guilty plea, they give away a lot of rights.
"There's always a risk inherent in any trial," Acker said. "At trial they can file appeals. When they plead guilty, they have no ability to file post-trial motions. They have limited rights for appeal."
During the guilty plea colloquy, Johnson acknowledged his rights and waived those rights.
"When you have an agreed-upon sentence, you virtually close any foreseeable post-sentence motion," Acker said. "A guilty plea is certain. We would have to worry is a jury going to convict him or not."
"If they would come back and acquit him then it's done and over with and there's no justice for the victims and the commonwealth," Acker said.
Follow Melissa Klaric on Twitter and Facebook @HeraldKlaric, email: firstname.lastname@example.org