2nd accomplice to store clerk’s murder has sentence reduced

Rodney Lee Walton (Lancaster County District Attorney;s Office)

LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) – A second prison inmate sentenced to life as a teenager for the murder of a Lancaster store clerk has had his sentence reduced.

Rodney Lee Walton was ordered to serve 25 years to life when he was re-sentenced Friday in Lancaster County Court, District Attorney Craig Stedman’s office said.

Walton, now 38, will have a parole hearing in about four years.

Walton was convicted of second-degree murder for the 1996 convenience store robbery that ended in the shooting death of Michael Heath. Walton served as a lookout for the robbery at Duke and Liberty streets.

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

A third co-defendant, Anthony R. Lewis, was re-sentenced Wednesday, also to 25 years to life. Lewis, now 38, was 17 years old when he cased the store and served as a lookout.

The district attorney’s office said Heath’s widow read a statement opposing parole for Walton. “You took away every chance of Mike having a life with me,” she said.

Walton testified for about 15 minutes and apologized to Sherry Heath.

“There’s no excuse for what happened. You shouldn’t have to go through what you been going through,” he said. “Your son was left without a father.”

A 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision ruled it cruel and unusual to sentence a juvenile to life without parole.

 

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