A man sentenced to life for a local murder pleaded his own case for a shorter sentence on Friday. Frankie Rodgers testified at a three-day hearing in Blair County Court that could ultimately result in him gaining his freedom.
Rodgers, now 49, was only 17, when 72-year-old Pasquale Lascoli died after being stabbed nearly 80 times. That means he could benefit from a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that automatic life sentences for juveniles are unconstitutional.
A judge has been hearing testimony on whether Rodgers should receive a shorter sentence, which could allow for him to be paroled. Before the proceeding wrapped up on Friday, Rodgers told the judge that he’d been unjustly arrested and wrongfully convicted of the murder. He said he was innocent.
Rodgers said his defense attorney was not of sound mind during the trial, and accused the Altoona Police officers investigating the murder, of lying about key evidence.
Rodgers wanted to address his remarks to Lascoli’s family, but they asked that he not be allowed to. Nearly a dozen of them testified asking the judge not to reduce Rodgers’ sentence.
“I think he’s trying everything he can to get out. I think he keeps saying he’s innocent, because that looks good for him. I think he tried to blame it on his lawyer, because that’s another reason I should get out because my lawyer wasn’t good. I don’t believe all that,” said Lascoli’s daughter, Beverly Riley.
A woman who said she’s known Rodgers all her life, testified that’s he’s a kind and sweet person, and that she loves him. She said she and her family are making plans for him to move with them to Ohio, if he’s eventually released.
Riley said she doesn’t believe testimony from witnesses called by the defense, that Rodgers has matured in prison and is a good candidate for release.
Bedford County Senior Judge Daniel Howsare, who presided over the hearing, indicated that it’ll be at least a couple of months before he decides whether to reduce Rodgers’ sentence. A reduction of only four years could make Rodgers eligible for parole.