Pennsylvania man’s hit-and-run sentence is upheld

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - An appeals court has declined to reduce the sentence imposed in a hit-and-run death outside a central Pennsylvania tavern four years ago, saying the defendant used his pickup truck as a “deadly weapon” and deserved the punishment.

The Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled this week that the 15- to 40-year term imposed on Gerald Buterbaugh, 45, of Huntingdon, was appropriate, PennLive.com reported (http://bit.ly/1owT8YL ).

Buterbaugh was convicted of third-degree murder in Franklin County in the 2010 death of Dale Henry, 32, of Burnt Cabins in Fulton County. He argued that state law does not specifically list automobiles as deadly weapons that can be cited to enhance a sentence.

The list in state law includes firearms along with “any dangerous weapon,” and “any device, implement or instrumentality capable of producing death or serious bodily injury.” The appeals court ruled that although vehicles used for their intended transport purposes aren’t deadly weapons, Buterbaugh used his as one.

Judge Jack Panella wrote that noted that “the character of the (truck) changed to a deadly weapon the instant (he) backed his vehicle out of the bar’s parking lot, accelerated forward … and struck the victim with sufficient force to cause death.”

Concluding otherwise, he said, “would result in the untenable position that an automobile is different than a litany of other everyday objects, which when used with a wicked purpose can cause serious bodily injury or death.”

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Information from: The Patriot-News, http://www.pennlive.com/patriotnews

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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