HONESDALE -- A man who was supposed to serve at least 17 years in prison for murder in Wayne County walked free Friday, seven years earlier than expected.
Joseph Iavecchio appealed his sentence and was able to change his plea.
In 2004, Joseph Iavecchio was sentenced to 17 years in prison after pleading guilty to third-degree murder.
Friday, he entered a new plea, guilty of manslaughter, and was able to walk free for time served.
Iavecchio walked into the Wayne County courthouse in Honesdale having served 10 years of a 17-year sentence. But he didn't leave in handcuffs. He was let out a secured side door, a free man.
Back in 2003, Iavecchio was charged with shooting and killing James Rosetti during a fight over a stolen marijuana plant. It all happened at a home in Waymart.
But Iavecchio's new attorney appealed his sentencing, arguing that he wasn't properly represented.
"He had been misadvised with respect to the availability of the self-defense defense," said defense attorney Neil Jokelson.
Now more than 10 years after the shooting, Iavecchio withdrew his guilty plea to third-degree murder and pleaded to manslaughter instead.
Iavecchio said on the stand, "I truly had a lot of time to think about this. I am truly sorry for the pain I caused. I never meant to take a son from his mother."
At Iavecchio's first sentencing in 2004, James Rosetti's mother said this shooting changed her life forever.
"My son is dead. He's never coming back. And although these people say they can feel what I feel, they'll never feel what I feel," said Marion Muck in 2004.
Iavecchio was sentenced again, but was able to walk free because of the time he's already served.
This time, Rosetti's mother, Marion Muck, didn't want to talk on camera, but said in the courtroom in tears, "Jimmy is a treasure in my life. My life changed the day you shot my son. I don't think the time you served made you a better person."
Iavecchio is now out of handcuffs and out from behind bars about seven years ahead of schedule.
His attorney believes he's a better person.
"I think he's going to be a productive citizen. It's my hope, but it's also my belief," said Jokelson.
Iavecchio will also have to pay more than $27,000 in restitution.
Prosecutors didn't argue against accepting the new plea because they felt it would be too difficult to try a murder case 10 years after it happened.
On May 30, 2014, this story was updated to correct the spelling of the defendant's last name.