Man Sentenced To Up To 80 Years For Brutal Attack
WILKES-BARRE — Joseph J. Marchetti Jr. stood in court Tuesday morning and apologized for murdering his girlfriend and severely beating her mother while he was in a drunken haze.
“I can’t say sorry enough for the hurt I caused you. I know what I did was wrong and I can’t apologize enough,” Marchetti told nearly two dozen relatives of the victims who were in court to see him sentenced. “What I did was out of character for who you knew me to be. ... I know these are only words, but they come from my heart. If I could turn back time, none of us would be in this court today.”
But Tanya Delese said she would never forgive him for fatally shooting her sister Antoinette “Tonilynn” Wilkinson, 46, and almost fatally beating her mother, 72-year-old Barbara Wilkinson. Delese described Marchetti as a “heartless coward” and a “drunk” who seems inhuman for attacking people who accepted him into their lives.
“She stuck by you, Joe, for all these years,” Delese said of her sister. “She supported you financially, emotionally and did nothing but good for you for the better part of your life, and she did not deserve what you did.”
She urged the judge who would decide Marchetti’s fate to ship him to a far-off prison.
“If I never get to see my sister or talk to my sister, he should never be able to see his family or talk to them,” Delese said. “God may forgive you Joseph, but we will never.”
Marchetti had been facing the death penalty for the January 2018 attack. But instead of going to trial, he reached a plea deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty Tuesday morning to third-degree murder and attempted murder charges.
He was immediately sentenced to serve up to 80 years in prison.
Assistant District Attorney Dan Zola, who prosecuted the case along with Justin Richards and Kyle Scanlon, said the prosecution agreed to the plea deal in part to avoid appellate issues that would drag the case out for years, prolonging the family’s grief.
“We were confident in the fact that we were going to get a conviction,” Zola said. “We were confident in the fact that we had a very strong case for the death penalty in this case. But ultimately, we all know in Pennsylvania that the death penalty can take a very, very long time. It usually is never carried out.”
He noted Marchetti is 52 years old and the sentence he received will ensure he dies in prison.
“There’s no doubt in our mind that this is a life sentence,” Zola said. “This defendant will never see the outside of a state prison.”
According to prosecutors, Marchetti attacked the women at their Foster Twp. home early the morning of Jan. 28, 2018. He shot Antoinette Wilkinson five times, with a .22-caliber rifle, striking her once in the arm with a defensive wound, two times in the back and two times in the head, according to prosecutors.
Antoinette Wilkinson had also been hit on the head with a blunt object, prosecutors said.
Marchetti also beat Barbara Wilkinson with a blunt object while saying he planned to kill her, according to prosecutors. Barbara Wilkinson sustained six fractured ribs, a brain concussion and a life-threatening loss of blood, prosecutors said.
When state troopers arrived on scene, they found Barbara Wilkinson suffering from a concussion and broken ribs, having been beaten with the butt of a gun. Tonilynn Wilkinson was dead from a combination of blunt force head trauma and multiple gunshot wounds.
Marchetti had shot himself in the face in the living room, but survived, according to prosecutors.
His attorney, Jonathan Blum, said Marchetti had a blood-alcohol level higher than .3 percent and had been using other drugs the night of the shooting.
“He has no real rational explanation for his behavior.” Blum said.
In exchange for Marchetti’s plea, prosecutors dropped a count of aggravated assault against him.
Luzerne County Judge William H. Amesbury accepted the plea and immediately sentenced Marchetti to 35 to 80 years in prison, keeping with the terms of the plea agreement and warning Marchetti that he will “suffer” in prison.
“At your age, with the sentence I’m about to impose, you understand that although I don’t say ‘life imprisonment,’ it is life imprisonment,” Amesbury said. “You understand that, don’t you?”
“Yes sir,” Marchetti said.
Marchetti will also be required to pay about $23,000 in restitution to Pennsylvania State Police and the Luzerne County Coroner’s Office, as well as $15,740 to Barbara Wilkinson.
Marchetti declined to comment as sheriff’s deputies escorted him from the courthouse.
Contact the writer: