Mercyhurst: Rhodes gets at least 40 months
A 3-year-old case against a former Mercyhurst College volleyball player came to a close Friday morning at the Erie County Courthouse.
Judge Ernest J. DiSantis Jr. sentenced Teri Rhodes to a minimum of three years and four months in state prison stemming from a voluntary manslaughter charge in the Aug. 12, 2007, smothering of her newborn daughter.
Rhodes, 22, had previously been given nine to 18 years for voluntary manslaughter in a November 2008 ruling by Judge William R. Cunningham. A Pennsylvania Superior Court overturned that sentence in 2009, citing a belief that Cunningham had sentenced Rhodes for a duration she had not agreed to in a plea bargain.
DiSantis’ sentence carries a maximum term of six years and eight months.
“I think his decision was fair for this crime,” said Rhodes’ lawyer, Philip Friedman, after the 9 a.m. sentencing.
Rhodes, then an 18-year-old sophomore, delivered the baby alone in a college apartment bathtub at 3810 Briggs Ave. Police found the child’s body hours later wrapped in a plastic bag.
“I just want to tell you how sorry I am,” Rhodes said as she stood before DiSantis on Friday. “If I could change anything from that day, I would… I will try, every day for the rest of my life, to atone for that day.”
Following her release from Erie County Prison on $25,000 bond in February 2009, she returned home to Commerce, Mich., and enrolled at Oakland University.
Both DiSantis and Erie County District Attorney Jack Daneri acknowledged Rhodes’ positive behavior since the incident, her clean record prior to August 2007 and her remorse for the crime.
Still, they each asserted that her conduct must be punished. Daneri said he has received some 60 letters from those close to Rhodes vouching for her character. Of those, he said only three mentioned the child’s life.
“That’s what we’re here for,” Daneri said. “It is my duty to bring a case against (Rhodes) without malice.”
Rhodes, who – along with her assembled family – sobbed throughout the proceedings, then became openly distraught and was provided a chair by court officers.
She will be credited with three months served from November 2008 to February 2009. DiSantis also recommended Rhodes continue to receive psychiatric aid and pursue educational opportunities during her prison sentence.
Short URL: http://www.gannonknight.com/?p=2142