Pulcine found guilty of murder

Duncansville man faces 30 years to life in prison for killing Ivan ‘Scotty’ Strayer

BRIDGETON, N.J. — A Dun­cans­ville man was convicted Wednesday of first-degree murder and related weapons charges in the 2016 shooting death in New Jersey of Ivan “Scotty” Strayer, 33, of Gallitzin.

Larry Pulcine Jr., 36, is facing 30 years to life in prison, according to the Cumberland County, N.J., prosecutor’s office. Under New Jersey’s No Early Release Act, Pulcine will have no parole options for 30 years on a life sentence.

After the verdict was rendered at 11:15 a.m. Wednesday, Pulcine was returned to the Cumberland County Jail to await an Aug. 2 sentencing by Judge Michael J. Silvanio, who presided over the trial.

Strayer and Pulcine were part of an Osmose Utilities Services construction crew working on high-tension towers in Vineland, N.J., when Strayer was found dead in his hotel room at the Wingate Hotel on Oct. 11, 2016, a victim of three gunshot wounds.

Trial testimony did not reveal a motive behind the shooting, but two pistols found in a field behind the Wingate Hotel were linked to Pulcine. One of the weapons, a .40-caliber Beretta, was determined to be the murder weapon.

“Today’s verdict means that we finally have freedom,” Megan Strayer, Ivan “Scotty” Strayer’s wife, said in a formal statement issued after the verdict.

“Even though the verdict cannot bring Scott back, at least we are free from the pain and anguish of not having any accountability,” Strayer said. “We have peace knowing that freedom is something Larry will not have. We have justice for our family and friends. We will never be able to forget, but at least now we can try to move forward, and as our son says, ‘his daddy can keep building stars.’ And we are, have been, and will remain Strayer Strong.”

The couple share a son who was 2 years old when his father was shot to death.

Megan Strayer and other family members from the Altoona area have been in court for the trial that stretched over a three-week period. In court Tuesday, Strayer’s family wore black T-shirts with the slogan #StrayerStrong.

“The whole process has been daunting and exhausting,” Megan Strayer said last week when trial testimony concluded.

She praised Assistant Pros­ecutor Charles Wettstein for exceptional communication with the Strayer family throughout the almost three-year process.

During closing arguments Tuesday, defense attorney Joel Aronow pointed to what he called sloppy investigation by the Vineland Police Department. Aronow accused police of failing to pursue other suspects and ignored, what he argued were important details about Strayer’s roommate Ricky Sperrazza.

Wettstein pushed back on Aronow’s theories and speculative motives. Instead, he asked the jurors to trust their instincts and remove their biases from the judgment they were about to make.

The jury started deliberating about 3:20 p.m. Tuesday afternoon and continued un­til 4:30 p.m, when jurors were sent home for the evening. Jurors returned at 9 a.m. Wednesday and had unanimous verdicts by 11:15 a.m. on first-degree murder, two counts of unlawful possession of a weapon and one count of possession of a wea­pon for an unlawful purpose.