Guilty Verdicts in James Roche Murder Trial

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WILKES-BARRE -- A jury in Luzerne County has found James Roche guilty on two counts of first-degree murder in the shooting death of a father and son last year.

He was also convicted on two counts of conspiracy.

Roche appeared unapologetic as he left the Luzerne County Courthouse after a jury convicted him of two counts of first degree murder and two counts of criminal conspiracy.

A jury took three hours to convict Roche of shooting Ronald Evans and his son Jeff last year at their home near Hunlock Creek.

Family of the victims waited for Roche to leave the courthouse so they could look at him one last time.

"It's, like, bittersweet, because as much as justice was served, it doesn't bring my brother back, or my nephew. But at least it's at an end," said Elaine Kukowski, sister of Ronald Evans.

Roche's murder trial was the second trial that family of the victims had gone to. The Luzerne County district attorney's office tried Roche's girlfriend and accused accomplice Holly Crawford for the same crimes in September. She was also found guilty on all counts.

"Hopefully, this will give them some closure," said Luzerne County Assistant District Attorney Mamie Phillips.

Phillips is not surprised the jury rejected Roche's claim that he shot Ronald and Jeff Evans in self-defense.

Prosecutors argued Roche intended to kill because he was jealous that his girlfriend Holly Crawford also had a relationship with Ronald Evans.

"I think it's very difficult to stand before a jury in this day and age and say someone who was shot multiple times in the back, someone was acting in self-defense," said Phillips.

Roche is set to be sentenced in January. His accused accomplice holly Crawford has her sentencing scheduled for later this month. Both face life in prison.

Closing arguments ended Friday morning with the prosecution telling the jury, "This is not a whodunit. James Roche murdered."

But the defense has its own theory about why Roche shot the men.

Roche appeared calm walking into the Luzerne County Courthouse, accused in last year's shooting deaths of Ronald Evans and his son Jeff at their home near Hunlock Creek.

In closing arguments, the defense told jurors the shootings were in self-defense because Ronald Evans had a gun pointed at James Roche.

The defense also admits Roche had been drinking, saying, "Roche's decisions that night were fueled by both alcohol and his loyalty towards Holly Crawford. What didn't fuel his decisions was a desire to kill anyone."

But the prosecution fired back in its closing, telling jurors, "make no mistake about it, this is first degree murder because it's premeditated, intentional murder."

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