Severcool to be set free



After 36 years, three months and 13 days in prison, a woman convicted on three counts of murder when she was a teen will be set free.
Severcool was about two months shy of her 18th birthday when she, along with her then boyfriend Robert Fadden, killed Lester Severcool, 43; Mary Severcool, 38; and Ted Severcool, 10, on August 19-20, 1980 by shooting them in their home with a .22-caliber rifle. Another son, James, was also shot but survived.
Severcool, now age 53, was sentenced in February 1982 to life in prison without parole after she was convicted on three counts of first degree murder.
But a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling declared a life sentence without the possibility of parole for a juvenile offender was a “cruel and unusual” punishment and therefore was in violation of the person’s constitutional rights. An additional ruling by the Court in similar case earlier this year maintained that the 2012 decision be retroactively applied.
Severcool appeared Friday in the Susquehanna County Court of Common Pleas to be re-sentenced by Senior Judge Kenneth Seamans to serve three concurrent, 18 to 36 year sentences – less than the time she has already spent in prison. She will also be placed on probation for 30 years.
But, as part of the sentencing agreement, she will not be allowed to visit or live in Susquehanna County.
Defense attorney Jason Beardsley said, “”There are people in this (courtroom) forever affected by the murders that rocked this rural community.”
But he said that his client had been rehabilitated. “People can change,” Beardsley said.
“I’m just a grateful person today,” Severcool said.
Family member Harold Stockholm told the court that most members of the family were “not against Roxanne getting out of prison,” including her surviving brothers, Ernie and Jimmy.
Stockholm said she had always been a “caring and loving girl. Then you turned against those who loved you.”
District Attorney Robert Klein said the case exemplifies how murder affects people even years later. “The wounds run very, very deep,” he said.
Severcool had filed a post-sentence relief (PCRA) petition in 2010, which was put on hold at the county court level, pending a decision on a case that was, at the time, waiting to be decided by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court (Commonwealth vs. Batts).
The Batts case was stayed by the court until the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in Miller v. Alabama, which it did in June 2012.
Fadden, who was 24 at the time of crime and the shooter, was sentenced, also in Feb. 1982, to serve three consecutive life terms following a jury conviction.
Since her arrest, Severcool has been incarcerated – first in the juvenile system and then the adult state prison system.
Judge Seamans said that following the hearing, she would return to the state prison in Cambridge-Springs and released from there.

Be the first to comment on "Severcool to be set free"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.