Guilty plea expected in central Pennsylvania triple homicide

Kevin Cleeves

May 4, 2013 11:23:50 AM PDT
A prosecutor says a man accused of a triple murder in rural central Pennsylvania last summer is expected to enter guilty pleas Friday and be sentenced to consecutive life terms.

Kevin Cleeves, 36, of Waynesboro is charged in the July 27 shooting deaths of his estranged wife Brandi, her boyfriend and the boyfriend's mother. Cleeves earlier pleaded not guilty and Franklin County District Attorney Matthew Fogal said he intended to seek the death penalty.

Fogal said he consulted "extensively" with surviving relatives and state police before agreeing to the proposed sentences for the May 10 hearing before Judge Shawn Meyers in county court.

"I have considered many factors, not the least of which is the potential emotional trauma to be inflicted upon the innocent young girl who witnessed her mother's murders, if she were to be called as a witness in a trial," he said in a news release.

Public Defender Michael Toms declined comment on the prosecutor's statement Saturday.

Authorities have said that Cleeves was locked in a bitter custody battle with 25-year-old Brandi Cleeves before the slayings in Quincy Township. Authorities allege that he killed her and Vincent Santucci outside a home and then killed 55-year-old Rosemary Holma when she tried to help her son, then fled with his 4-year-old daughter.

Police said Kevin Cleeves was later captured the next day near Youngstown with the girl, who was unharmed.