Woman sentenced to 17 to 34 years after no contest plea in 2013 slaying of elderly man

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WELLSBORO, Pennsylvania — A woman has been sentenced to 17 to 34 years in state prison in the shooting death of an elderly man during a 2013 home invasion and robbery in northern Pennsylvania.

Debra Lockett, 58, of Morris Township pleaded no contest in Tioga County to third-degree murder Friday in the September 2013 slaying of 82-year-old Oliver Litzelman.

Jury selection had been scheduled to begin Monday for her trial on charges of criminal homicide in the slaying and aggravated assault in the stabbing and strangling of the victim's 81-year-old wife, who was seriously injured.

Prosecutors said Lockett went to the couple's Liberty Township home claiming she was a Litzelman descendant and doing genealogy work. After being invited inside, police said, Lockett announced a robbery and killed the victim in a scuffle. His wife testified at a preliminary hearing a year ago that Lockett killed her husband when he refused to hand over any cash

Public defender Mary Morris told The (Williamsport) Sun-Gazette that his client didn't want to risk a life term on a first- or second-degree murder conviction. She "looked at all the facts and decided that with the evidence against her she would not contest it," Morris said.

District Attorney Krista Deats said the desire for closure on the part of the victim's family spurred the offer of a plea deal.

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