Two sentenced to life terms in 2003 execution-style slaying

March 4, 2012 12:00 am

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Two men convicted of killing a California, Pa., man almost a decade ago again asserted their innocence before being sentenced Friday in Washinton County Court to life terms.

John Bronson Jr., 55, of California, Pa., and Michael Duncan, 35, of Amherst, Ohio, were convicted in January of first-degree murder and conspiracy in the February 2003 execution-style slaying of John Newman, 45. Mr. Bronson was also convicted of criminal solicitation.

Mr. Duncan told Judge Janet Moschetta Bell that he could accept a sentence for being a drug dealer, but not a murderer. He said "I'm an innocent man. I'll believe that 'til I die."

Mr. Bronson offered his "deepest sympathy and condolences" to the victim's family but said "I played no part in his death."

An 18-page grand jury presentment described Mr. Bronson as a "dangerous major" drug dealer who met Mr. Newman after Mr. Newman became addicted to prescription painkillers following a severe back injury.

Mr. Newman struck a deal with police and agreed to become an informant.

Police said Mr. Bronson suspected that Mr. Newman had set him up and offered one person $10,000 to kill Mr. Newman. That person declined, but police believe Mr. Bronson was able to persuade Mr. Duncan, who they called a low-level marijuana and "pill dealer," to carry out the crime.

First Published 2012-03-03 23:01:43

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