Sentence upheld for man who traded gun used to kill trooper

December 20, 2018

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania appeals court on Thursday upheld a 5- to 10-year sentence for a man who traded a stolen gun for drugs, a weapon later used to kill a state trooper.

A Superior Court panel ruled a county judge did not abuse his discretion in sentencing Bradley McMullen for theft by unlawful taking.

McMullen, 29, admitted he stole his mother’s gun and traded it with Jason Robison for Suboxone, according to prosecutors.

Robison subsequently used the .32-caliber Beretta semi-automatic pistol to slay 23-year-old rookie Trooper Landon Weaver in the rural community of Hesston in December 2016.

“All parties agree that, at the time of the trade, (McMullen) was unaware and could not have foreseen that this murder would be committed with the firearm,” wrote Superior Court Judge Jack Panella.

Robison, 32, was himself shot to death by police.

McMullen’s defense attorney sought a much shorter sentence, but Huntingdon County Judge George Zanic imposed the maximum, exceeding the recommendation in a presentence report.

Huntingdon County District Attorney Dave Smith said Weaver’s death has affected the community profoundly, and McMullen’s sentence reflected the seriousness of the crime.

“In my experience, it is rare for the Superior Court to uphold a maximum sentence like the one Judge Zanic sentenced Bradley McMullen to,” Smith said in an emailed statement. “The appellate court’s opinion emphasizes how serious McMullen’s crime was.”

McMullen’s lawyer did not return a message left by The Associated Press Thursday seeking comment.

Weaver went to Robison’s home to investigate a report Robison had defied a protective order by texting his son’s mother.

Authorities said Robison told Weaver he did not want to go to jail before shooting him and fleeing.

He was tracked to a nearby camper and shot to death when, authorities said, he refused orders and moved as if to come out of the camper while holding a pistol.

Weaver had been a state trooper for a year and was married about six months before his killing.

Update hourly