Sugar Run Man Pleads Guilty in Labor Day Homicide
Joshua Bass, Sugar Run, entered a guilty plea last Friday in Wyoming County Court; President Judge Russell Shurtleff accepted the plea, which was to a reduced charge of voluntary manslaughter (felony grade one) and delivery of a controlled substance (ungraded felony).
Bass had originally been charged with criminal homicide (felony one), carrying firearms without a license (felony grade three) and possession/delivery of a controlled substance (ungraded felony). The charges were filed on Sept. 4 of last year following an incident at the Lake Carey Inn near Tunkhannock in which Bass was alleged to have shot and killed Jerome Prawdzik, Jr., 29, Pittston.
Bass was defended by Wilkes-Barre Defense Attorney William Peters, who entered the guilty plea last week on his client’s behalf. At Bass’s preliminary hearing late last year, several witnesses present on the night Prawdzik was killed testified that they had seen Bass with a gun and saw him in a verbal and then physical altercation with the deceased. They also testified that Bass had threatened other persons present that night with his gun.
The entire incident began as a drug deal for cocaine, which went awry when Prawdzik told Bass the substance Bass had sold him was not genuine. Several people testified at the preliminary hearing that Prawdzik had bought the cocaine for his friends to use that evening during their Labor Day celebrations; they said they did not know that Prawdzik used the drug himself.
An autopsy of Prawdzik’s body on Sept. 5 of last year determined the cause of death to be a gunshot wound to the abdomen. The manner of death was ruled a homicide. Bass presented himself to State Police on Sept. 6 and was Mirandized and verbally interviewed. Bass admitted in his statement to police that he had been at the Inn on Sept. 4 in the evening and had sold cocaine to Prawdzik. He admitted that he’d pulled a gun out as they were struggling, but told the police that “as it [the gun] fell to the ground it went off,” indicating the shooting had been accidental. He told police he then ran away.
Bass also admitted that he did not have a license to carry a firearm. Following last Friday’s guilty plea, Bass will be placed on the sentencing list for May, although the pre-sentencing investigation could delay the time of his actual sentencing. Voluntary manslaughter carries with it a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
The charge of delivery of a controlled substance carries with it a maximum penalty of ten years in prison.
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