Teen from Lancaster Sentenced to 32 ½ Years to Life for Murder and Firearm Offenses

Elijahuwon BrownElijahuwon Brown /Submitted Image

LANCASTER, PA — In a courtroom decision last Friday, Elijahuwon Brown, a 17-year-old from Lancaster, received a prison sentence ranging from 32 ½ years to life for the murder of 23-year-old Rolando Rivera and two related firearm offenses. The sentencing marks the culmination of a case that began when Brown, then 14, fatally shot Rivera in August 2021.

Lancaster County Judge Merrill Spahn delivered the sentence after considering the gravity of the crime and the age of the defendant at the time it was committed. Under Pennsylvania law, first-degree murder typically mandates life without parole. However, Brown’s age exempted him from this mandatory life sentence, setting the stage for a judicial determination that balanced retribution, deterrence, and rehabilitation.

The court heard an emotional impact statement from Rivera’s mother, presented by First Assistant District Attorney Travis Anderson, who also showed two videos depicting the tragic incident. While the prosecution sought a sentence of at least 50 years, citing the severity of the crime and its impact on the community, defense counsel argued for the minimum allowable sentence of 25 years, emphasizing Brown’s youth and potential for reform.

On the night of August 27, 2021, Lancaster City police were called to the scene of the shooting, where they discovered Rivera with fatal gunshot wounds. Investigative efforts led to the recovery of shell casings and video evidence that implicated Brown as the assailant. Charged and arrested shortly after the crime, Brown has been held without bail since his arraignment.

The case against Brown proceeded without a motion for decertification, which would have moved the case to juvenile court, suggesting the serious nature of the charges warranted trial in adult court. Detective Adam Flurry of the Lancaster County Bureau of Police filed the formal charges, leading to Brown’s guilty plea in October.

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