- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 29, 2015

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) - An eastern Pennsylvania man has been sentenced to life in prison plus eight to 16 years in the strangulation death of his girlfriend last year.

Anthony Heath, 26, of Allentown, was convicted in Lehigh County last month of first-degree murder in the January 2014 death of Angela Steigerwalt, 35, of Tamaqua.

Judge Kelly Banach called him “despicable” and “a pathological liar” during Wednesday’s sentencing hearing and termed the crime “obscene.”

“You are a total smudge on the community,” Banach told him. “Society needs to be protected from you. You do not deserve to walk amongst us and see the light of day.”

Prosecutors said Heath strangled Steigerwalt with a television cord in a fit of rage because she reneged on plans to go with him to a child custody hearing, then burned her body in a neighboring county and fled to North Carolina.

Heath called the death accidental and said he took the body to Jim Thorpe and set it on fire because he panicked. He represented himself at trial after rejecting a proposed deal with prosecutors to plead guilty but mentally ill to third-degree murder and receive a 28- to 56-year prison term.

Steigerwalt’s mother, Jean Serfass, tearfully described the day she found out that her daughter had been killed as “the darkest day of my life.”

“I think of Angie every single day… I love her now and forever, and miss her like crazy,” she said.

Sherri Steigerwalt said her sister’s burned remains were found two miles away from her home, and thoughts about the victim’s last moments have tormented her.

“God was with Angie throughout this senseless tragedy,” she said. She called Heath a “heartless, soulless monster.”

Heath has vowed an appeal, but the judge told him she is confident that the conviction would not be overturned.

“Wish upon a star. File what you want. You are done,” Banach said.

___

This story has been corrected to show Anthony Heath’s sentence is life plus eight to 16 years, not life plus 16 years.


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