Montco man convicted of murder seeks new sentence after juvenile lifers declared unconstitutional

Ricky Roberts, 42, has been behind bars for 25 years.

Mark Abrams
September 05, 2018 - 2:25 pm
Wooden gavel in courtroom

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NORRISTOWN, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — Lawyers for a West Pottsgrove man serving life for the 1993 murder of a neighbor are presenting witnesses in Montgomery County court, seeking a reduced sentence because of a Supreme Court ruling that declares life sentences for juveniles "cruel and unusual" punishment.

Ricky Roberts, 42, has been behind bars for 25 years. He pleaded guilty but mentally ill when he was 17 years old to the shooting death of a Stowe, Montgomery County neighbor — 26-year-old Brenda Rhoades — back in 1993. 

A judge sentenced him to life without parole, but the Supreme Court’s decision on such sentences has resulted in these cases being brought back to the local court for resentencing. 

Defense attorneys presented a parade of Roberts' family members who testified about mental illness, abuse and violence that he witnessed and experienced growing up. They also plan to present other expert witnesses who will testify about Roberts' own schizophrenia diagnosis and treatment since he’s been incarcerated. 

Family members of the victim sat at the front of the courtroom gallery, and they are expected to testify later in the proceedings. 

Court officials expect the hearing to run through Friday. It’s unknown whether Judge Gail Weilheimer will rule at the conclusion of the hearing or wait and digest the court record and issue a new sentence later.