WILKES-BARRE-- After more than 34 years in prison, 62-year-old Tyrone Moore is set to be a free man after agreeing to a plea deal Thursday.
Moore was convicted and sentenced to death for murdering Nicholas Romanchick at an animal hospital in October of 1982.
According to investigators, Romanchick was with his wife at the Forty Fort Animal Hospital getting his cat checked out, when Moore, along with an accomplice, walked in, robbed the place, and shot Romanchick.
Romanchick died from the gunshot wound nearly two weeks later.
Moore spent years in solitary confinement on death row. Over the next several decades, he appealed his conviction, arguing that his defense counsel was inadequate. Eventually, a re-trial was ordered in 2014.
"We're here today because a federal judge identified great deficiencies in the defense of Tyrone Moore 34 years ago," said Luzerne County First Assistant District Attorney Jarrett Ferentino. "We were faced with the prospect of re-trying a case where the witnesses are dead, their testimony would be inadmissible, so we arrived at what we believed was the fairest result."
On Thursday, Moore pleaded no contest to third-degree murder and sentenced to 20 years in prison with time served.
Walking out of the courthouse, Moore told Newswatch 16 that he was blessed to be able to return home. Moore emphasized that was still wholeheartedly innocent of all charges, but he agreed to a plea deal so he could finally be home with his family after more than 34 years in prison.
Moore will be transferred to the state prison near King of Prussia, where he is expected to be processed and released over the next several days.
As part of his plea agreement, he is not allowed any contact with the victim's family.