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Fairmount Twp. Man Gets Up To 9 Years For Manslaughter

November 6, 2018

Fairmount Twp. Man Gets Up To 9 Years For Manslaughter

WILKES-BARRE — A Fairmount Twp. man convicted of voluntary manslaughter for a shooting he claimed was self-defense was sentenced Tuesday to serve up to nine years in prison.

Keith Williams, 42, was sentenced to 4½ to nine years in state prison for fatally shooting 40-year-old Brock Earnest during a fight inside Williams’ home at 1034 Old Tioga Turnpike, on Jan. 11, 2017.

Luzerne County Judge David W. Lupas imposed the sentence Tuesday, noting Williams’ minimal prior record and low likelihood of re-offending.

The shooting took place at the trailer Williams shared with his then-girlfriend, Deidre Depiero, who met Earnest while she was hospitalized for what she described as a “mental breakdown.” She had almost no contact with Earnest for several months after being discharged, but then on the night of the shooting Earnest called saying he was dying of mouth cancer — a claim that appears to have been a lie.

Williams urged his girlfriend against picking up Earnest, a man she hardly knew who was covered in tattoos including the phrase “slow pain” on his stomach and what appeared to be a lightning bolt inked on his forehead.

But Depiero insisted, so they drove about an hour and picked Earnest up in Montandon, getting beer and cigarettes on the way back. Depiero testified Earnest was going on in the car and saying he “wanted to end it with a bang.”

Back at the trailer, the men began horsing around — until Earnest got aggressive and attacked Williams, taking him to the ground, Depiero testified.

Depiero stepped in between the men to stop the barrage of blows Earnest was unleashing on Williams, and took a blow from Earnest herself, she said.

The men separated, and Earnest went to sit on the living room couch. Williams went to the bedroom and loaded a 12-gauge shotgun.

Depiero claimed Earnest was still sitting on the couch when Williams emerged and fired a shell of double-ought buckshot.

Williams maintained that Earnest had risen off the couch and said something to the effect of, “Are you ready to go now?” Williams, who suffers from neuropathy and diabetes, testified that he fired in self-defense because he was far out-matched by Earnest’s “superior” strength. 

A jury deliberated for more than 7½ hours before rejecting the self-defense claim, but also rejecting the prosecution’s theory that Williams committed premeditated murder.

The conviction for voluntary manslaughter, a felony, means the jury thought Williams either acted in the heat of passion or was mistaken in his belief that deadly force was justified.

Williams has been held at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility since his arrest.

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