- Associated Press - Thursday, March 6, 2014

EASTON, Pa. (AP) - An eastern Pennsylvania man faces up to a year behind bars after pleading no contest to illegally providing a handgun to his mentally ill son who later shot and killed a sheriff’s deputy.

Maurice Connor, 72, of Albany Township, entered the plea Wednesday during his retrial in Northampton County Court, where the proceedings were moved following a mistrial in Berks County Court last fall.

Jurors were on a break when Connor entered the no contest plea, in which a defendant acknowledges that prosecutors have enough evidence to convict. Other charges including illegal sale of a firearm and conspiracy were dismissed. His penalty ranges from probation to up to a year in prison, Judge John Uhler said.

Prosecutors said Connor gave a handgun and $200 for a rifle to Matthew Connor, 25, a convicted felon barred from owning such weapons.

Matthew Connor later killed deputy sheriff Kyle Pagerly, 28, and was killed himself during a June 2011 exchange of gunfire as authorities tried to arrest him at his home on burglary and weapons charges.

State police said Maurice Connor told investigators that he gave the handgun to his son because he was living in a tent in the woods and wanted the weapon for protection.

“He said he did know it was illegal to give him a firearm, and that Matthew had a previous arrest,” Cpl. James Cuttitta testified before the plea agreement was reached.

A Berks County judge declared a mistrial in October after learning that five members of the jury had figured out that the charges were connected to Pagerly’s death.

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