Teen accomplice to store clerk’s murder has sentence reduced

Anthony R. Lewis (Lancaster County District Attorney's Office)

LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) – A man sentenced to life in prison as a teenager for his role in the murder of a Lancaster store clerk will likely be paroled after serving 25 years.

Anthony R. Lewis, now 38, was convicted of second-degree murder for the March 1996 robbery that ended in the fatal shooting of Michael Heath.

Lancaster County President Judge Dennis Reinaker on Wednesday re-sentenced Lewis to 25 years to life. The district attorney’s office said in about four years, Lewis will have a parole hearing and likely be released shortly after that.

A 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision deemed life sentences against juveniles unconstitutional.

“This is a gut-wrenchingly horrible case in which an innocent father and husband was mercilessly gunned down,” District Attorney Craig Stedman said in a statement. “His sentence, and that of his family, was and is permanent.”

Lewis was 17 when prosecutors say he cased a convenience store at Duke and Liberty streets then served as a lookout for the robbery.

Sixteen-year-old Aramis Gonzalez III shot Heath after demanding money. He and co-defendants Clarence Laudenberger and Rodney Lee Walton, also juveniles at the time, will be up for re-sentencing hearings in the next week.

“Regardless of the result of 25 or 30 years, as these cases pile up, and murderer after murderer gets paroled and/or dramatic reductions in their sentences and are released into our communities, I cannot say that Lancaster County is safer or that it feels like justice is being better served,” Stedman said.

Lewis testified that he has served as a mentor to young inmates and earned his GED while imprisoned. His aunt testified he can live with family when he is paroled.

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