Pa. court upholds man’s sentence for bar outburst

The Pennsylvania Sup­erior Court has upheld a state prison sentence for a man who created a ruckus in a Huntingdon bar because, the defense stated, he was having a bad day due to a falling out with his girlfriend.

Huntingdon County Judge George N. Zanic last year imposed a 20- to 84-months sentence on 51-year-old Gary Gene Hetrick Jr. of Huntingdon, explaining Hetrick’s outburst in the bar was not “out of character.”

The judge said Hetrick had a record of DUIs in Blair and Centre counties, drug charges in Mifflin County and a prior record of assault and harassment in Hunti­ngdon County.

“I think this is totally in character. And, you put the public at risk,” the judge stated in imposing the sentence last April 5.

“As a result, I have considered the protection of the public, the gravity of the offenses as it relates to the impact on the life of the victims, the law enforcement officers, the community, and I have also considered your rehabilitative needs,” the judge told Hetrick.

Hetrick is incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill, according to the Pennsy­lvania Inmate Locator.

The charges indicated that on Aug. 25, 2017, Hetrick was yelling at customers in Memories Bar in Huntingdon.

When asked to leave, he refused, and when officers arrived, he fought them.

He ended up pleading guilty to three counts of resisting arrest, and one count each of criminal trespass, disorderly conduct and public drunkenness.

Hetrick, through attorney Christopher B. Wencker, took his case to the Pennsylvania Superior Court, contending his sentence was excessive.

In his appeal, Hetrick stated the sentence focused on his criminal history but failed to consider mitigating circumstances.

He charged his conduct was not in character but was “largely situational.”

In an opinion issued last week and written by Superior Court Judge Maria McLaughlin, it stated the appeal deserved review because the defense raised a substantial question of law — whether the trial court abused its discretion by sentencing him without considering mitigating factors.

“The trial court did not find credible Hetrick’s claimed mitigating factor, that is, that he was having a bad day and the conduct would not occur again,” the Superior Court opinion stated.

McLaughlin and Judges Jacqueline O. Shogan and Victor P. Stabile, stated the judge considered Hetrick’s mitigating factor, but rejected it.

“We conclude the trial court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing Hetrick to an aggregate sentencing of 20 to 84 months,” it stated.

The defense also raised a second issue, contending Hetrick was denied access to his presentence report.

The appeals court denied this request, noting his attorney had access to the report and reviewed it with Hetrick.

“Accordingly we conclude that Hetrick’s claim lacks merit,” it stated.