Pittsburgh man gets 2 life terms in slaying of Beaver Falls couple
A Beaver County judge on Tuesday sentenced a Pittsburgh man to two life sentences for the slaying of a Beaver Falls couple.
A jury on Oct. 28 convicted Robert Burgess, 37, of Pittsburgh for first-degree murder, kidnapping and related offenses but deadlocked on whether he should be sentenced to death. That led to automatic life sentences on the first-degree charges for the slayings of Richard Harper and his wife, Demetria, both 32, on June 30, 2008.
Senior Judge John Dohanich sentenced Burgess to consecutive life sentences and 27 to 54 consecutive years for the other charges.
Investigators said the couple’s two young children watched as two masked gunmen herded their parents into the basement and heard the gunshots that killed them.
In July, a jury convicted Devon Shealey, 28, also of Pittsburgh, on two counts of second-degree murder for the Harpers’ slayings, and he’s serving two life sentences.
Investigators said Demetria Harper, Shealey and Burgess bought about 20 pounds of marijuana in El Paso for distribution in Western Pennsylvania. Witnesses said Burgess was angry because he believed that Demetria Harper kept some of the money he gave her for the marijuana.
Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or [email protected].