SCRANTON -- Three teens have pleaded guilty to third-degree murder in the death of Scranton Police Officer John Wilding.
Nasiir Jones, Isiah Edwards, and Tanner Curtis entered the pleas Thursday afternoon in Lackawanna County court.
In July of 2015, the three robbed a man at gunpoint in Scranton's west side. They led police on a chase, crashed the stolen SUV they were in, and it was during a foot pursuit that Officer Wilding had a fatal fall.
In this story
Officer Wilding suffered a traumatic brain injury and later died.
Prosecutors believe the officer died as a result of the teens' alleged crime.
As a part of this plea deal, the district attorney's office and defense attorneys have agreed that each teen should serve nine to 18 years in prison for Wilding's death.
After hearing emotional testimony from Wilding's wife, mother, and sister, the judge approved that agreed-upon sentence for Jones, Edwards, and Curtis.
"If things went differently, and John had been the arresting officer on the robbery charge, he would have been an advocate for them to have the ability to change. Nothing, no sentence that the court or anyone could impose could have ultimate justice and bring John back, but we feel this was the best available choice so not to have to put the family through a trial," said Scranton Police Chief Carl Graziano.
"They got to hear these three men admit their involvement, that stole John from them. You heard their anguish, you heard about the wonderful man that he was, the wonderful police officer that he was, and truly, heard about the legacy that he leaves behind," Lackawanna County District Attorney Shane Scanlon said.
Nasiir Jones, Isiah Edwards, and Tanner Curtis started serving their sentences immediately, though the judge did allow them credit for the time they've already served since their arrest in 2015.