STROUDSBURG -- An admitted killer may now get a second chance at freedom after a judge overturned his sentence of life without parole.
Richard Klinger of Stroudsburg committed that murder in Monroe County when he was 17 years old. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life without parole.
But after what happened in court, he has a new shot at getting out of prison sometime soon. A judge gave Klinger a new sentence -- 46 years to life in prison.
Because Klinger has already served 46 years for murdering a woman from Smithfield Township in 1971, this new sentence makes him eligible for parole.
"I am very happy, thank you," Klinger said. "I am so sorry."
After spending nearly five decades behind bars, 63-year-old Richard Klinger may soon be a free man.
Because of a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that bans life sentences for juveniles, a judge in Monroe County overturned that sentence of life without parole. Klinger's new sentence of 46 years to life gives him a chance to go in front of the state parole board.
"I think it was fair and I think that the record really supports what his decision was," said defense attorney Hillary Madden.
Robert Wertz is a retired state police lieutenant colonel. This was his first homicide case back in 1971. He says he understands why the courts had to rehear Klinger's case but says his job was done 46 years ago.
"He's been an inmate for a number of years. He knows the system. He knows how to play the game. Maybe all of what is going on in there is factual and true. My job was to make sure the investigation was solved and we made the proper arrest. We did that," Wertz said.
Jean Nottle from Northampton County has known Klinger for about five years. She, along with other members of the Berean Bible Church in Stroudsburg, have supported Klinger through the years and are happy with the judge's decision.
"He's remorseful about it and showed that he was very upset," Nottle said.
Klinger's defense attorney will now begin getting his transcripts to the parole board.
There is no set date on when he will meet with them, but his attorney did say the whole process should only take a few months.