Pa. juvenile lifers will be resentenced in 2002 killing

District Attorney John T. Adams has said his office will not be pursuing life terms against any of the county's juvenile lifers

Stephanie Weaver
Reading Eagle, Pa.

Debi Runyans is dreading Wednesday, but she hopes it will be the last time she will have to be in court to relive her son's murder.

It's been more than 15 years since Jaryd Runyans, 17, was fatally shot during a botched robbery and more than a decade since the four young men charged in the murder were sentenced.

But due to recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings that deemed mandatory life sentences for juveniles unconstitutional, Runyans must face two of her son's killers again.

Bradley Grim and Jimmy Carrero, who were 16 and 15, respectively, at the time of the murder, are scheduled to be resentenced Wednesday by Berks County Judge Stephen B. Lieberman. Grim, now 32, will be resentenced in the morning, and Carrero, now 30, will follow in the afternoon.

Runyans plans to attend and testify at both hearings.

"I have a big knot in my stomach," she said. "I have not seen either of them since that last day in court. I'm trying to prepare myself for it, but I don't know what's going to happen that day."

The first round of sentencings brought Runyans a sense of relief, but that was shattered several years ago when the U.S. Supreme Court first started handing down rulings regarding juvenile lifers.

Even though she's not looking forward to going back to court, Runyans needs the case to be resolved again.

"I can't take it," she said. "It's up and down, up and down. As much as I'm dreading it, I just want it done."

Grim's defense attorney, Lauren Marks, said both sides are anxious to complete the resentencing process. She previously said she believes Grim, who now mentors younger inmates, has rehabilitated himself while in prison and hopes he can prove that to Lieberman.

Defense attorney Osmer Deming, who is representing Carrero, said his client changed while behind bars and is not the same person who at 15 fired the bullet that killed Runyans.

Both defendants were sentenced to life in prison after juries in separate trials convicted them of second-degree murder and related offenses.

During an interview at Berks County Prison in March, Grim said he, Carrero and codefendants Jose Garcia and Michael Groff were planning to rob a pot dealer July 19, 2002.

They heard their target would be at a party at Drew Esser's home in the 1000 block of Church Street. Jaryd Runyans wasn't supposed to be there but had stopped by after work to drop off food.

Carrero and Garcia busted into the party pointing loaded sawed-off shotguns. They ordered everyone to the ground and demanded they hand over pot and money.

Groff, who testified at the trials of Grim and Carrero, said he was in on the robbery and was lying on the ground beside Jaryd Runyans when Carrero fired several shots.

One of the bullets hit Jaryd in the stomach, causing a fatal injury. Toxicology reports showed he did not have any marijuana or alcohol in his system when he was killed.

Garcia and Groff, 16 and 18, respectively, at the time of the murder, took plea deals in the case.

Garcia, now 32, pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and is serving 30 to 60 years at the State Correctional Institution-Graterford.

Groff, who also faced charges in an unrelated shooting less than a month after Runyans' murder, was sentenced to 10 to 30 years for both cases. He pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and robbery in the Runyans' case and to attempted murder and related offenses in the other.

Now 33, Groff was paroled in 2012 but remains under supervision.

District Attorney John T. Adams has said his office will not be pursuing life terms against any of the county's juvenile lifers. Of the nine cases, three have already been resentenced.

While it's difficult for her, Runyans said she is no longer against Grim and Carrero one day being released. She just doesn't want it to be any time soon.

She said it's only fair they both do at least 30 years since that was what Garcia got in his plea deal.

"I would be very, very upset if they got less than 30 years," she said. "It all depends on how they've done while in jail." 


©2017 the Reading Eagle (Reading, Pa.)

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