During his sentencing hearing held Friday morning, Edward R. Kralik, 68, of St. Marys, pleaded guilty to third-degree murder in the June 2010 homicide of Clayton Lecker of St. Marys.
Elk County President Judge Richard Masson presided over the hearing, which took place in the main courtroom of the Elk County Courthouse in Ridgway, where many of Lecker's family members and friends were in attendance.
Kralik was represented by Attorney James Martin, while Elk County District Attorney Bradley Kraus represented the Commonwealth. Also in attendance at the hearing was Sgt. Phil Hoh of the St. Marys City Police, who investigated the homicide.
Judge Masson accepted Kralik's plea of guilty to murder in the third degree, a felony charge. Kralik was sentenced to a maximum of 20 years' incarceration at the State Diagnostic and Classification Center in Pittsburgh. Masson noted that Kralik must serve a minimum of eight years in order to be eligible for parole.
"Parole is not a right," stated Masson.
Masson continued that given Kralik's medical condition, he recommended the state Department of Corrections consider incarcerating Kralik at an institution which can facilitate his needs, such as SCI Laurel Highlands in Somerset or SCI Retreat in Luzerne County.
"The defendant is ineligible for the risk reduction incentive as he has pled guilty and has been sentenced to a crime of violence," stated Masson.
Upon parole, Kralik must pay a supervision fee of $35 per month. He must also provide a DNA sample; however, Masson waived the $250 testing and assessment fee as Kralik's financial situation would constitute an undo hardship.
Kralik is also required to pay restitution to the Victims Compensation Assistance Program (VCAP) in the amount of $26,972.95, which he will repay in monthly installments, as well as prosecution costs in the amount of $6,471.65.
Masson granted Kraus' motion to nolle pros all other charges against Kralik, which included two counts of aggravated assault and one count of possessing implements of a crime.
At the beginning of the hearing, District Attorney Kraus recounted the details of the homicide, which occurred at 141 Robin Rd. between the hours of 10:35 a.m. and 11:44 a.m. on June 12, 2010, when Lecker died of a single stab wound to the abdomen during an altercation with Kralik.
According to Kraus, Kralik made admissions to the St. Marys City Police that he launched at Lecker with a knife and argued with Lecker about his car's engine. Kralik admitted he stabbed Lecker and that the stab wound caused Lecker's death.
Kraus recommended Kralik be sentenced to the State Diagnostic and Classification Center in Pittsburgh for a period of no less than eight years and no more than 20 years with credit for time served since June 15, 2010. In addition, Kraus recommended Kralik pay supervision fees of $35 per month upon parole, provide a DNA sample and pay the associated costs of $250, pay court fines, pay restitution to the Victims Compensation Assistance Program (VCAP) in the amount of $26,972.95 and pay costs of prosecution in the amount of $6,471.65.
Martin requested Kralik be sentenced to a correctional institution which would meet his health needs, citing SCI Laurel Highlands or Retreat as appropriate facilities.
Masson stated that the court is obligated to send everyone to Pittsburgh and once their evaluation process is complete, the state Department of Corrections will sentence him to a facility that meets his needs.
Masson added that the fine for third-degree murder is a maximum fine of up to $50,000.
Kralik apologized for what happened.
"I was not aware he was hurt that bad when I left the garage," Kralik said.
Masson explained that once Kralik pleads guilty, he gives up his right to proceed to a trial.
Following Masson's order, Kraus noted the Lecker family chose not to make a statement during the hearing. He said he has had several discussions with the family about all the facts and circumstances surrounding the state's decision.
When asked if Kralik had anything he wanted to say to the family, he began recounting his version of the crime, which Masson said was unnecessary.
Kralik stated that he was "sick over it, no doubt about it" and called the crime "a tragedy."