Hunter Reeser was fourteen years old when he shot and killed his grandmother in Erie Pennsylvania. According to court documents Hunter Reeser who was dealing with mental health issues was upset with his grandmother as he did not want to attend a meeting at his school. Hunter Reeser would grab a gun and shoot his grandmother from the porch of the home into her car. This teen killer would ultimately plead guilty to third degree murder and would be sentenced to ten to twenty years in prison
Hunter Reeser 2023 Information
Date of Birth: 06/15/2002
Height: 6′ 00″
Current Location: PINE GROVE
Permanent Location: PINE GROVE
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One of the youngest defendants ever charged with homicide in Erie County pleaded guilty but mentally ill Friday to third-degree murder in his grandmother’s shooting death.
Hunter Reeser, now 16, will be sentenced March 7 before Erie County Judge Joseph M. Walsh, who also accepted Reeser’s plea.
Reeser pleaded guilty but mentally ill as part of a plea bargain with the Erie County District Attorney’s Office. The prosecution and defense agreed on a recommended maximum prison sentence of 20 years with a minimum sentence between seven and 10 years.
Walsh will decide whether to accept the recommended sentence and what minimum sentence to impose at Reeser’s sentencing hearing. The judge asked both sides to gather information about Reeser’s mental health from prison officials before the sentencing.
Reeser’s plea of guilty but mentally ill ensures that he will receive psychiatric treatment while he serves his prison sentence. The prosecution and defense stipulated that Hunter Reeser was mentally ill at the time of the slaying.
Reeser was 14 when he was charged with shooting his grandmother, 60-year-old Sandra Orton, as she sat in a vehicle waiting outside their Harborcreek Township home on Aug. 23, 2016.
Reeser’s court-appointed lawyer, James Pitonyak, has asked Walsh to give Reeser receive a minimum sentence of seven years in prison at the sentencing. In a court filing, Pitonyak wrote that Reeser’s chaotic childhood and extensive history of mental illness were mitigating factors Walsh should consider at the sentencing.
“The district attorney understood the mental health component here,” Pitonyak said after Friday’s hearing. “We were able to arrive at this resolution, which we think is fair under the circumstances.”
Reeser has already been held in the Erie County Prison without bond for about two and a half years while he awaited prosecution in the case.
Walsh previously ruled that the case against Reeser should proceed in adult court. The defense had asked Walsh to transfer the case into juvenile court, where Reeser could only be incarcerated until he turns 21.
A defense expert testified at a hearing on the request that Reeser’s grandparents were considering institutionalizing him because of his aggressive behavior shortly before the homicide. Reeser shows signs of paranoid schizophrenia and might be on the autism spectrum, the expert said at the hearing.
Assistant District Attorney Paul Sellers said Friday that the May hearing, also known as a decertification hearing, opened up “substantial defenses” for Reeser if he took the case to trial.
Reeser’s case was scheduled for trial in February.
“The decertification process ended up being a little bit of a double-edged sword” by offering possible mental-health defenses for Reeser, Sellers said.
Walsh also previously threw out Reeser’s recorded confession to police after he found that Reeser could not understand the consequences of giving the statement without a lawyer present.
State police said Reeser shot Orton from the porch of their Harborcreek residence while she sat in her vehicle waiting to take Reeser to a school meeting. Reeser used a rifle he took from a locked gun cabinet inside the residence by unscrewing the cabinet’s hinges and then hid the gun there after the shooting, investigators said.
Police said Reeser confessed to shooting Orton because he did not want to go to the school meeting.
Orton’s husband, Bob Orton, was present at Friday’s hearing but declined to comment. He is Reeser’s step-grandfather.
Reeser’s father and stepmother were also present at the hearing.