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Three people accused in the vicious shooting death of a Pennsylvania pizza delivery man four years ago have been sentenced to a combined 115 years in prison, prosecutors said.
Israel Berrios, Salvador Roberts and Carolina Carmona were sentenced on Monday in the murder of 58-year-old Richard LaBar, who was fatally shot in the face with a shotgun during a botched 2017 robbery in East Stroudsburg.
On Dec. 11, 2017, LaBarr was fatally shot as he delivered a pepperoni pizza and cinnamon sticks to a private address at 427 Normal Street, nearby East Stroudsburg University at around 1 a.m., according to a probable cause affidavit obtained by Oxygen.com.
Prosecutors described LaBar’s killing as a “set-up” and said the group worked in tandem to lure the delivery man to the address in order to rob him. After Carmona called in the order to Domino’s Pizza, prosecutors said Berrios “lurked” in the bushes outside the address clutching a sawed-off shotgun. Roberts, who acted as the group’s wheelman, was parked roughly two blocks away in a Mercedes.
As LaBar approached the address to drop off the order, Berrios emerged, pointed the shotgun at him and demanded cash, according to charging documents. After a short struggle, Berrios shot LaBar point-blank in the face, near his right eye. As the pizza delivery driver laid dying on the ground, unable to breathe properly, Berrios and Carmona rifled through his pockets and snatched all the money in his possession.
The trio allegedly then fled the scene. LaBar was later pronounced dead at Leigh Valley Hospital, officials said. Authorities later traced the number used to place the fake Domino's order to Berrio's cellular phone. Surveillance footage and eyewitnesses also linked Berrios, Roberts and Carmona to the crime scene.
“What these three did was utterly disgusting,” Monroe County First Assistant District Attorney Michael Mancuso said in a statement following the sentencing. “The case impacted the community significantly. People still talk about it.”
Berrios, the suspected triggerman, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and faces life in prison. His girlfriend, Carmona, pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and robbery and received 29 and a half years to life in prison. Roberts received 25 years to life in prison.
Mancusco characterized the group’s sentencing earlier this week as an “intense proceeding.”
“Each defendant was given a chance to speak not only to the court but also to the family members of the victim,” he said.
Berrios, 21, who has a prior history of robbing Domino's drivers, reportedly “quoted scripture and vowed he would be a great man someday,” before he was escorted out of the courtroom.
His attorney was adamant Berrios felt “profound regret” for his role in LaBar’s murder.
“We are hopeful Israel will someday have the chance to show he is not a lost cause, as the sentence handed down reflects, but can be given the chance to be judged in the future by who be becomes,” Jason M. Leon, Berrios’ attorney, told Oxygen.com in a statement on Wednesday.
Leon, who blasted his client’s sentence as draconian, was adamant the juvenile courts had failed him.
“This is a tragic case for all involved,” Leon added. “Mr. Berrios, a child at the time of the offense, was sentenced quite harshly for his role in the death of Mr. LaBar. We are of course disappointed that this young man, in the absence of further intervention of the appellate courts, will not have an opportunity to mature and prove that he can be rehabilitated as he grows into adulthood.”
Roberts also apologized in a statement, adding he’d “learned a lot” since his arrest. His lawyer, on Wednesday, said his client’s sentence was “appropriate,” adding he was deeply remorseful for his role as a getaway driver in LaBar’s murder.
“Mr. Roberts is very sorry, obviously, that this occurred,” his defense lawyer, Robert Saurman, told Oxygen.com. “He was the driver of the car that took them there. He never got out of the car. He didn’t know there was a gun. He’s horrified by the result of what occurred. Nevertheless, he recognizes that a man lost his life and he ended up making a plea in recognition of that and in the long-run, in the interest of justice.”
Carmona opted not to make a court statement, however, her parents spoke on her behalf, prosecutors said.
Berrios and Carmona will be eligible for parole in their seventies, officials said. Roberts will be eligible for early release when he’s 51.
LaBar, who was described as a “loving husband,” was born in East Stroudsburg, according to his obituary. He graduated from East Stroudsburg High School in 1978.
“He was just an ordinary man just trying to make an honest living, but was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” a GoFundMe page, which loved ones set up for the family in 2017, stated.
At the time of his death, LaBar had been “working extra to try to make money for the coming holidays,” according to the Monroe County Office of the District Attorney.
“I told the LaBar family that nothing that happened today could bring their loved one back but maybe this helps bring them a step nearer to closure,” Mancusco said.
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