Man convicted in a slaying during robbery, faces life term
WILKES-BARRE (AP) — A man has been convicted of first-degree murder in a northeastern Pennsylvania slaying during a robbery two years ago that prosecutors allege was plotted in collaboration with a teenage girlfriend.
Jurors in Luzerne County deliberated for less than two hours Wednesday before convicting 33-year-old Reynaldo Mercado in the September 2018 killing of 58-year-old Fred Boote in the victim’s Wilkes-Barre home. Mercado faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole.
Prosecutors said the mother of Mercado’s teenage girlfriend had dated Boote, and mother and daughter had lived with him until the previous summer. After the slaying, prosecutors allege Mercado tried to burn the body and then fled with the girl to New Jersey, hoping to be able to eventually reach the Dominican Republic.
The defense contended that Mercado acted in defense of the girl, believing she was in danger of sexual assault, but the now-16-year-old girl testified that the two made up that story. The girl, who told authorities she didn’t know the victim would be hurt, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and faces of a sentence between 20 years and life.
Mercado took the stand in his own defense Wednesday morning and stuck to the assault story despite her denial, but acknowledged planning to burglarize the home, punching the victim and bashing him over the head with a lamp, and eventually taking hold of the knife prosecutors allege he used to stab the victim more than 50 times.