by Jonathan Weaver
A third actor in the death of a Chicora man outside a Kittanning bar March 17 2013 has been sentenced for his actions.
Anthony Bove, 20 of Kittanning was sentenced by Judge James Panchik to serve the maximum 20-60 months (up to five years) behind bars in the Armstrong County Jail for his role in James Sullivan’s death early that morning.
Rather than being sentenced due to the felony criminal homicide or assault charges, Bove pled guilty in December to a first-degree misdemeanor count of involuntary manslaughter and avoid trial.
“You did not act as an individual, but rather with a group of individuals that caused these injuries to James Sullivan,” Judge Panchik said.
That group includes Dennis Rosenberger of Ford City (who is now in custody at SCI Mercer), Otilio Cosme – Bove’s step-father – (who also pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to up to three years in the Armstrong County Jail) and Keith Brison (who is set to stand trial next week.)
Specifically in police affidavits, Bove performed a “soccer-style” kick to Sullivan’s right side while he was on the pavement of Montieth Street, either nearly or already unconscious.
Before the final sentencing, Bove’s court-appointed attorney, Linda Ziembicki, motioned for Bove’s plea to be discarded and the hearing to be rescheduled.
“What is the basis for withdrawing your plea?,” Judge Panchik asked.
“His innocence, your honor,” Ziembicki replied.
Ziembicki argued that Bove had the equivalency of a 10th grade education and that Bove told her multiple times that he did not understand the circumstances of the plea agreement on multiple occasions.
“This case has languished nearly 24 months,” Judge Panchik replied. “This case should proceed – unless you have a reason that merits consideration, I’m not going to permit a continuance.”
Judge Panchik added that there have been at least four continuances granted during 2014 that prolonged the case.
Bove testified that he also has problems reading and other learning disabilities.
“I just want to go to trial so I can prove my innocence,” Bove testified.
District Attorney Scott Andreassi contended Ziembicki and other court officials have “went out of their way” to explain each step, to which Judge Panchik agreed before denying the motion.
Andreassi said he would have been prepared to go to trial had the plea been withdrawn, with the full support of the family members representatives have met with. The jury pool has been doubled during the past three cases.
Andreassi and Assistant District Attorney Chase McClister listened to the testimony of Frances Sullivan, James’ older sister, on the effect James’ death has had on the family.
She waited until she got back to her seat before crying with family members. At least two court rows of supporters also were there to comfort the Sullivan Family.
“They’ve been through so much since the beginning of this,” Andreassi said. “I know they’re very tired, very worn down.”
“I’m very sorry for your loss,” Bove read from a written statement. “I’m sorry this happened. I offer my deepest apologies.”
James Panchik also considered the written statements of Sullivan’s other sister, Rosie Shriver, of another relative and those written by investigating police officers, as well as Bove’s juvenile criminal record before his final sentence.
Before the sentencing, the District Attorney’s office only requested the remaining charges be not processed and Bove be incarcerated in the Armstrong County Jail while not opposing house arrest or work release
Bove will also refrain from contact with the victims and co-defendents, take the necessary steps to obtain his GED certificate and perform 100 hours of community service.
Bove was credited with nearly three months incarceration.
Ziembicki indicated she might file an appeal to the sentence.