A Johnstown man was sentenced Tuesday to 6 1/2 to 13 years in state prison for the role he played in the death of Robert C. Kuharcik nearly two years ago.
Keenan Alan Snyder, 20, looked in the direction of the children, grandchildren and other loved ones of Kuharcik and apologized for killing the 64-year-old man.
But the apology fell short of what was needed to show remorse, Cambria County Judge Linda Fleming said.
“His words show he is remorseful because he is going to jail,” she said.
The statement was made to the defendant’s attorney, Richard Messina, of the Cambria County Public Defender’s Office, and Snyder’s father, Keith Greenwood, after both asked the judge for leniency in light of his past.
The apology expressed to the Kuharcik family by Greenwood was tearful and almost pleading.
“My son did not intend to hurt your father. He has nightmares, and he’ll have to live with this,” said Greenwood.
In an Oct. 16 guilty plea to involuntary manslaughter, robbery and charges related to impaired driving and driving while under suspension, Snyder admitted that Kuharcik died because, at least in part, of the impact of the robbery and wounds rendered by the defendant.
Using information provided by a caregiver at Kuharcik’s apartment in the 300 block of McMillen Street, on Nov. 11, 2011, Snyder entered the residence and located Kuharcik.
Police said he went with the knowledge that Kuharcik had cash and prescription pills.
Kuharcik had a heart condition and was suffering from cancer.
Snyder attacked the victim, who sustained a number of defensive stab wounds, police said.
An autopsy showed the cause of death as stress-induced heart attack with secondary causes of severe coronary artery disease and multi-drug toxicity.
Greenwood told the judge that his son had been shifted from home to home in part because he – his father – was serving time in prison.
But Greenwood took advantage of educational opportunities while behind bars and became a paralegal. Today he has his own tow service.
“He’s going to change and not go further in crime,” he said of his son.
Two daughters of the victim told the court of the loss they have suffered and the pain they experience when they think of how their father died.
Cambria County District Attorney Kelly Callihan asked Fleming to sentence Snyder on the high end of the state sentencing guidelines.
“He (Snyder) didn’t intend for things to happen, but intent can change in an instant,” she said.
Callahan described Kuharcik as a Vietnam veteran and good man.
“He fought for our freedom, and ironically, he had to fight for his life,” she said, adding that his final battle was one he did not win.
The prosecutor agreed to an involuntary manslaughter plea because of the multitude of health problems Kuharcik had and the multi-drug toxicity through self-medication.
The details of the crime show, Fleming said, that while Snyder may not have set out to kill Kuharcik, he could have left when he learned someone was in the house.
“You could have stopped,” she said. “You committed a brutal crime and the number of injuries suggest this took a while.”
The judge added that she hopes Snyder can be rehabilitated the way his father has been.
Kathy Mellott covers the Cambria County courthouse for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/kathymellotttd.