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Carbon man's appeal in murder case is denied by county judge

Published July 17. 2013 05:03PM

An appeal filed by one of three men convicted in a brutal murder of a Franklin Township woman that occurred over nine years ago, was denied in a memorandum opinion handed down by a Carbon County judge.

Brad Mark Ondrovic, 29, of Lehighton, appealed his sentence of life in prison without parole based on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling concerning the sentencing of juveniles to life in prison without parole.

President Judge Roger N. Nanovic II denied that contention as meritless, noting that the case Ondrovic refers to in his appeal, Miller v. Alabama, did not apply since the defendant was 23 when he was convicted.

Ondrovic pleaded guilty to second degree murder in the case. He, Derek Schock, 27, and William Bender, 29, all of Lehighton, were charged with the brutal murder of Schock's mother, Lynndell Schock, on Feb. 12, 2004 in her Franklin Township home.

State police at Lehighton said Schock and Ondrovic broke into the home while the woman slept. They attacked her, stabbed her to death, and left with just about $20 in cash. Bender was the driver of the "getaway" car.

Schock pleaded guilty in a plea agreement in which the death penalty request was dropped by the district attorney's office. He was sentenced on July 27, 2006 to life without parole.

Ondrovic was sentenced on Dec. 19, 2006 to life after previously pleading guilty to second degree murder.

Bender pleaded to third degree murder and was sentenced on Feb. 12, 2007 to serve 10 to 25 years.

As with Derek Schock, Ondrovic's plea was part of an agreement in which the DA agreed to not seek the death penalty.

Ondrovic did not file a direct appeal of his sentence. On Aug. 23, 2012, he filed a "pro se" petition for Collateral Relief under the Post-Conviction Relief Act.

In addition to his contention that the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Alabama case applied to him, he also alleged in his petition that he was coerced by his counsel to plead guilty, which violated his state and federal constitutional rights; also that scientific research shows that a person's brain is not fully developed until the age of 25 or older, and that his brain was not fully developed at the time he committed the offense, and he should have been treated as a juvenile; and finally a claim of ineffective counsel.

Nanovic ruled that the Alabama federal case was not applicable in Ondrovic's case.

Nanovic noted in the Alabama case the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that sentences of life without parole for adults is not only "constitutional for an adult when the crime is murder, but also in nonhomicide cases."

As for the allegation of ineffectiveness of counsel, Nanovic dismissed that contention as being untimely filed.

Nanovic wrote, "As a matter of law, Defendant may not be treated for sentencing purposes as a juvenile when he is not. Nor has Defendant alleged or proven any circumstances peculiar to him which would question the validity or constitutionally of his conviction and sentence. As such, Defendant's PCRA petition was untimely filed, it does not qualify for the statutory exception to timeliness premised upon on a newly recognized constitutional right, and it was properly dismissed."

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