Aliquippa teen convicted of arranging parents’ 1996 slayings resentenced
A man convicted as a teenager of hiring a pair of classmates to kill his parents in their western Pennsylvania home more than two decades ago could have a chance of parole beginning at age 76 following resentencing.
Brian Samuel, 39, was sentenced in 1997 to two consecutive life terms without possibility of parole, but a U.S. Supreme Court ruling barring mandatory life-without-parole terms for teenagers required him to be resentenced.
The Beaver County Times reports that a judge last week sentenced Samuel to 30-year-to-life terms to be served consecutively, or an aggregate sentence of 60 years to life.
Samuel was convicted of first-degree murder in the April 1996 deaths of William and Tresa Samuel in Aliquippa, about 20 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.
Prosecutors said Samuel was 16 when he hired 16-year-old Trazis Durham and 18-year-old Pete Schoonover to kill his parents in exchange for $12,000 each because the victims were going to cut him off from his generous grandparents.
All three defendants were convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life terms after jurors couldn’t reach a unanimous decision on whether they should be executed. Durham also awaits resentencing.
Defense attorneys said in a sentencing memorandum that Samuel takes full responsibility and wishes to express remorse to his remaining relatives and the community. They cited a troubled home life and said he had earned a GED certificate in prison and recently completed classes for a barber license to be a productive member of society.
District Attorney David Lozier argued for a longer term, citing detailed plans Samuel made for his parents’ murders and his participation in the crime. He said the defendant “showed no remorse.”
Lozier also said evidence indicated Samuel was an uncooperative prisoner until the Supreme Court issued its ruling that cases like his be reconsidered, and “then he became a model prisoner.”