The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

January 17, 2014

Man faces 10-20 years for fatal beating

EBENSBURG — An Indiana County resident charged in the 2010 beating death of a 79-year-old Cambria County man was sentenced Thursday to 10 to 20 years in state prison for a crime the judge described as senseless.

Sherman Lynn Holes, 45, of Cherry Tree, told Cambria County Judge Norman Krumenacker that he was on drugs the evening of June 30, 2010, when he went to the mobile home of Arthur “Arch” Henry and ended his life with a wooden plank.

“There is no excuse for what happened. I was messed up on drugs,” Holes said. “I’m truly sorry for what happened.”

Henry was found unconscious in a pool of blood on the living room floor of his Eighth Avenue home.

Though still alive, Henry was unable to speak to tell authorities what happened. He was taken to Memorial Medical Center in Johns­town, where he died three days later.

In addition to the prison sentence, Krumenacker ordered Holes to pay the costs of prosecution and a $2,000 fine.

In late December, Holes pleaded guilty to third-degree murder, a felony of the first degree, in exchange for the prosecution’s dropping a charge of aggravated assault.

At a preliminary hearing in the fall of 2012, testimony was that Henry had been struck at least twice on the head with a blunt instrument, causing multiple skull fractures and bleeding in the brain.

Authorities alleged that a 21⁄2-foot-long wooden plank found behind a washing machine near the front of Henry’s trailer was the murder weapon.

The murder remained unsolved for about two years. Holes was arrested in mid-2012 based on DNA evidence found on the plank that linked Holes and the victim.

Also adding to the case was testimony by a woman who had driven Holes to Henry’s residence. The woman said that though she stayed outside in her vehicle, she heard somebody hitting somebody.

It was the DNA link that convinced defense attorney Maribeth Schaffer to urge Holes to accept the plea deal.

The outcome of a DNA analysis conducted by an expert on behalf of the defense was never made public, but Schaffer said following the guilty plea: “DNA is DNA.”

Henry’s daughter offered tearful testimony Thursday on the impact her father’s death has had on the family. The victim’s brother was also in the courtroom, but did not speak.

Kathy Mellott covers the Cambria County Courthouse for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/kathymellotttd.

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