Man convicted of driving into fundraiser crowd, then killing mother gets 2 life terms
Jun 28, 2023, 9:36 AM | Updated: 10:44 am
BLOOMSBURG, Pa. (AP) — A man convicted of driving into a fundraiser crowd in Pennsylvania last summer, killing one and injuring 19 others, then going home and bludgeoning his mother to death has been sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.
President Judge Gary Norton told Adrian Oswaldo Sura Reyes, 25, in Columbia County Court on Tuesday that his crimes “were the result of pure evil” as he sentenced him to two life terms in the two deaths. He also imposed an additional 123 to 380 years on 19 counts of attempted homicide.
Authorities said Sura Reyes told investigators that he was driving in Berwick after arguing with his mother Aug. 13 and was “tired of fighting with his mother, including about money, and wanted to be done with it.” At the same time, about 75 people had gathered in a blocked-off parking lot outside the Intoxicology Department bar for a fundraiser to benefit victims of a blaze in Nescopeck more than a week earlier that had killed seven adults and three children.
Police said Sura Reyes told them he drove past the gathering, then turned around and headed back to the bar “to drive through the crowd of people.” Rebecca Reese, 50, of Wilkes-Barre was killed and 19 others were injured, four critically. Police said Sura Reyes told them he then returned to his Nescopeck home and saw his mother, 56-year-old Rosa Reyes, in the street and he hit her with the vehicle and then struck her with a hammer several times.
The (Bloomsburg) Press Enterprise reported that more than a dozen victims and supporters attended the sentencing, some weeping as they listened to testimony about that day, while others still too hurt to attend watched online, according to the district attorney’s office.
Sura Reyes declined to speak in court but told reporters outside that he was sorry. Defense attorney Janan Tallo said his client was remorseful and his actions were “not necessarily an evil criminal act” but more the result of a “mental health crisis.”
“Hopefully, today can be the day where healing perhaps begins for some of the victims,” Tallo said.
Reese’s son, Devin Reese, 28, who attended the sentencing with his sisters, said the family was “grateful.”
“He is going to be inside prison for the rest of his life. I feel justice has been served,” Reese said.
Prosecutors originally pursued the death penalty in the case but dropped those plans after Sura Reyes agreed to plead guilty to all charges in June. The judge also fined Sura Reyes $1.05 million and ordered him to pay $411,000 in restitution, although prosecutors acknowledged that it was unlikely the defendant would ever be able to pay that amount.