SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Calling it one of the most bizarre cases he’s ever seen, a Lackawanna County judge Wednesday sentenced three people in connection with a man’s death last year.
Preston Layfield, Tyler Mirabelli and Amanda Wayda all pleaded guilty to third degree murder charges.
Each learned they could spend up to 40 years in state prison.
Family and friends of victim Joshua Rose crowded into a small courtroom Wednesday. It was standing room only.
They described a son, brother, uncle and friend who loved music and trusted everyone.
It is that trust in people that may have ultimately contributed to his death last August.
“The weight is never going to leave my chest but I’m glad justice was served,” Mary Rose Pope said after the sentencing.
Mary Rose Pope will celebrate Thanksgiving Thursday without her son Joshua.
The 21-year-old was killed by three of his friends last year.
“At any given time this could have stopped and to commit a senseless murder, like the judge said, why?” John Gilligan, the grandfather of Joshua Rose questioned.
While driving a truck on Interstate 81, Preston Layfield admitted using jumper cables to strangle Joshua Rose.
His friend, Tyler Mirabelli, was behind the wheel and encouraged Layfield to pull harder, later helping to dump Rose’s body in a wooded area of Susquehanna County.
Amanda Wayda was the victim’s former girlfriend.
Prosecutors say she was manipulative and may have been calling the shots.
“I think it’s difficult to say which one of them was the most culpable but Joshua Rose did not have to die,” Deputy District Attorney Mariclare Hayes said.
Amanda Wayda received the lightest sentence of the three suspects, a total of 15 to 40 years in prison.
“She didn’t do enough to protect her friend but she had no intent, ever, to have him killed,” Wayda’s defense attorney Jim Elliott said.
The victim’s mother says an apology from Wayda in court Wednesday wasn’t enough.
“I think it lacked sincerity. I know her pretty well. I treated her like a daughter,” Mary Rose Pope said.
Preston Layfield and Tyler Mirabelli each received the maximum sentence allowed: 20 to 40 years in prison.
Layfield’s attorney was upset saying his client provided police all the details on what happened.
“There are two criminal defendants that are going to jail for a long time because of my client’s cooperation and I had hoped for a better sentence,” Layfield’s defense attorney Paul Ackourey said.
After killing Joshua Rose while driving on Interstate 81, prosecutors believe the three suspects put a hat and glasses on the victim, stole his money and stopped at a gas station.
The judge handling this case questioned why that happened, saying the killers made it seem like a scene from the movie “A Weekend at Bernie’s.”