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2 charged in fatal beating with bats enter guilty pleas

Published September 23. 2010 05:00PM

The remaining two of four men, charged with the fatal beating of a Hazleton man with aluminum baseball bats, entered guilty pleas under a plea agreement in the Schuylkill County Court Wednesday to charges of murder in the third degree, criminal conspiracy and robbery.

Entering the guilty pleas were Andrew A. Tutko, 20, of McAdoo and Jeffrey A. Gombert, 20, of Hazleton. Entering similar pleas last Friday in the county court were Curtis T. Foose, 26, Hazleton and Shane D. Roof, of Palmerton. Judge Charles M. Miller accepted the pleas of the four men. Foose and Roof will be sentenced on Nov. 5 and Tutko and Gombert on Nov. 18.

District Attorney James P. Goodman, made the same motion after Gombert and Tutko entered their guilty pleas that he did last Friday for the other two, to drop the charges of murder in the first and second degrees. All four are being held in the county prison awaiting sentencing.

Goodman recited to court what evidence the commonwealth was ready to prove had the case gone to trial. It was scheduled for trial last Monday, but the four chose to plead guilty after getting the agreement from the DA not to seek first or second degree murder charges.

Goodman recited to court that the four men on Sept. 14, 2009 drove the victim, Anthony Locascio, 21, of Hazleton, to a location off the Old Mill Road in East Union Township, and in a wooded area all four wielded baseball bats and struck the victim on the legs, body and head.

The autopsy report shows at least three hits were to the head, but there is believed to have been more hits.

After the beating they stripped the victim of jewelry, money and clothing and left the body lying in the wooded area, which was discovered by passing motorists.

The autopsy report stated death was caused by blows to the head.

Gombert, through his court-appointed attorney, James Conville, claimed he did not strike a blow to the head.

Goodman stated it was true the commonwealth could not prove who struck the head blows, but all four participated in the beating and all four were guilty of the charge of murder.

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