SUNBURY — Monday’s sentencing of 19-year-old Sabian Ebersole, of Coal Township, who pleaded guilty March 2 to a felony of voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of 21-year-old David D. Rivera Jr., of Shamokin, on Jan. 24, 2018, in Coal Township, was continued when the adult probation department amended its pre-sentence investigation.
The amendment includes a deadly weapon enhancement that could possibly increase Ebersole’s minimum state prison sentence from 3 to 4 1/2 years.
Ebersole, who was 17 at the time of the shooting that involved an alleged botched drug deal, was expected to receive a sentence of three to six years in state prison under his plea agreement.
Ebersole, who remains incarcerated in Northumberland County Jail, participated by video in Monday’s legal proceeding.
His attorney Michael Rudinski, of Williamsport, told President Judge Charles H. Saylor that he received notification of the amendment Monday morning and requested a continuance in the sentencing, which the judge granted.
Northumberland County District Attorney Tony Matulewicz, who did not seek a deadly weapon enhancement as part of Ebersole’s sentencing, said an amended pre-sentence investigation conducted by county probation officers recommended that the deadly weapon enhancement be included in the plea agreement and requests Saylor to consider the enhancement upon sentencing Ebersole.
No new sentencing date has been set.
The plea agreement, which was reached a week before Ebersole was scheduled to go to trial, called for Ebersole to plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter with the mistaken belief that he was justified in his actions. Felonies of criminal homicide, aggravated assault and criminal conspiracy, and misdemeanors of terroristic threats, possessing an instrument of crime and recklessly endangering another person will not be prosecuted at sentencing.
All the charges were filed by Coal Township police.
Since Ebersole has already served more than two years in county prison, he will only have about one year left on his minimum sentence.
The district attorney pointed out that Ebersole had no prior criminal record and was only 17 — two months shy of 18 — at the time of the shooting and his arrest.
Rudinski previously said he felt the plea agreement was a good offer for his client to accept.
If convicted of all the charges, Ebersole could have faced 35 years to life in prison.
Rudinski said Ebersole was protecting a friend who was being robbed and assaulted when the shooting occurred and was in immediate danger of death or serious bodily injury.
Rudinski pointed out Monday that his client’s cooperation with authorities throughout the investigation and his incarceration led to the arrest of three witnesses in the shooting death on robbery-related charges.