Man granted parole for 1992 killing on Lancaster playground

Ricardo Cruz (2017 photo submitted by Lancaster County District Attorney's Office)

LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) – A prison inmate who was 13 years old when he fatally shot an 18-year-old woman on a Lancaster playground in 1992 has been granted parole from his life sentence.

Ricardo Cruz, now 39, is expected to be released after a hearing with a parole board, District Attorney Craig Stedman’s office said Tuesday.

Cruz was sentenced to a life without parole following his first-degree murder conviction in the killing of Debbie Rivera, but a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision deemed life sentences against juveniles unconstitutional.

Lancaster County President Judge Dennis Reinaker re-sentenced Cruz to a term of 25 years to life.

Prosecutors asked for a sentence of 35 years to life. They said Cruz “set out with an expressed purpose of killing” a rival when he opened fire with a .45 caliber handgun at Carter MacRae Elementary School. Rivera was struck in the head and died at the playground.

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