WILKES-BARRE -- A man convicted of murdering two people as a teenager is being re-sentenced in Luzerne County Court.
It was a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowed Kenneth Crawford to seek a new sentence. That ruling called mandatory life sentences for teenagers unconstitutional.
Hearings for his re-sentencing began on Monday and it was an emotional day in court. Crawford was crying when the husband of one of his murder victims said Crawford is a changed man.
Crawford walked into the Luzerne County Courthouse on Monday morning, 17 years after he was sentenced in 2001 to two life terms without parole for murdering Diana Algar and Jose Molina.
At the time of the murders, Crawford was just 15. Now, at 34, he is being re-sentenced.
Prosecutors said that in 1999, Crawford and accomplice David Hanley posed as hitchhikers, shot Algar and Molina near Shickshinny, and took off in her car.
In court, Algar’s husband Robert Algar Jr. said of his late wife, “She was probably the most giving person I’ve ever known. She would do whatever she could to give a helping hand.”
Prosecutors want to make sure Crawford, who they said hid from police under the name Antonio Sanders, stays behind bars.
They are asking the judge to give Crawford essentially what would amount to life in prison but with the possibility of parole.
“To say that the defendant was without remorse in an understatement. He bragged to police about his abilities as a con man. He boasted about fooling Indiana police under his alias,” Luzerne County First Assistant District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce said.
Defense attorney Sara Jacobson called Crawford a changed man. She wants him to be resentenced to 25 to 50 years.
“Ken Crawford is not who he was back then. He is not defined by the worst of his actions,” Jacobson said.
Diana Algar’s husband Robert seemed to agree.
“He is a person that I think has changed. I don’t think he’s the same person that we were dealing with all those years ago,” Robert Algar said.
Crawford was crying in court after Robert Algar said that.
The hearing continues on Tuesday with more witnesses from the defense.
After the hearing ends, attorneys on both sides will submit written arguments, so it’s expected to be several weeks before the judge makes a ruling on a new sentence for Crawford.