The man who stabbed two people to death in Forest County last year has been sentenced to two consecutive life sentences.
Scott Allan Black, 39, of Butler entered guilty pleas to two counts of second-degree murder Wednesday in Forest County court before Judge Maureen Skerda.
In a plea agreement, Black pleaded to the April 26, 2013 murders of Marcelle I. Edwards, 42, of Tionesta and Donald Louis Shay, 43, of Leechburg
Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry
Two consecutive life sentences
Murderer Scott Allan Black is escorted from Forest County Courthouse by Sheriff Robert Wolfgang and sheriff’s deputies after he entered guilty pleas to the April 2013 murders of Marcelle I. Edwards and Donald Louis Shay and was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences.
Shay's estranged wife addressed the court and Black.
Lisa Shay said Edwards and Shay were referred to as 'victim A and victim B' during court proceedings. "My husband was not a 'victim A,'" she said. "He was a person. He was loved by many people."
"You have ruined three families," Shay said. "Marcelle's, my husband's, and your own."
While Black's family can visit him and send letters, the other two families can only visit at cemeteries, she said.
She denied the idea that Black killed Edwards and Shay because of love.
"Love does not kill," she said. "I don't think I ever knew what hate was... until this happened. I have hate and darkness in my heart that I never had before."
"My final promise to my husband was that I would do everything to ensure that there was justice," she said.
Their 15-year-old son did not write an impact letter to the court.
"He said, 'There is nothing that I can say, you can say, or he can say that will change what he did and bring my father back,'" Shay said. "My son is in counseling. He has nightmares. My child has had to learn that, yes, there are monsters in this world."
"The loss cannot be described," she said.
"Not only did my son lose his father, he lost the mother that he used to have because I couldn't function," she said. "I couldn't even cook because I couldn't use a knife without thinking of what you did."
Shay said her son could not visit a family camp in Forest County. "He can't come up here anymore," she said. "This is not only the place where his father was killed in the most horrific manner, it's the place he and his father had the most wonderful times."
"We're trying to pick up the pieces and find a way to keep the visions away," Shay said.
Edwards' son, Matthew Barrow, briefly addressed the court by videoconference. "You took my mother's life, but you didn't take her spirit," he said.
Several members of both families wrote impact letters to the court - "outlining the trauma and devastation that they feel based on the killing of their loved ones by Mr. Black," according to Forest County District Attorney Elizabeth Ziegler - but no others spoke.
Skerda asked Black's attorneys - Fred Hummel and John Ingros - if they needed an opportunity to address the court. While they denied, they said Black would speak.
Black, who was visibly shaken throughout the proceeding, turned to face the many family members of both Edwards and Shay in the gallery.
He said the day he and Edwards were engaged was the happiest of his life.
He directed his initial remarks to Shay's family.
"I did not even know Donald. He was an innocent man," Black said. "He did not deserve to die."
"He suffered at my hand," he said. "I am ashamed and embarrassed by my actions."
"I won't ask for your forgiveness," he said. "I had no right to do what I did."
"I know my 'sorry' don't mean nothing to you, but it's all that I can give you," he said.
He then spoke to Edwards' family.
"The world is a darker place without Marcelle in it," he said. "I won't ask you for forgiveness because I can't forgive myself."
"I lost myself that night for reasons I still don't know," Black said. "I am appalled by my own actions. There's no justification for what I did."
"All I can say is how sorry I am," he said.
"I'd trade places with both of them if I could," he said. "I should be punished."
He said he would never refuse visitors in prison, whether they came to ask questions or vent anger.
"I hate myself and I stand in front of you now for judgment," he said.
"The crime is vicious. It's senseless. It's heinous," Skerda said. "Nothing this court can do will ever bring the victims back. You've taken away lives. You've taken away futures. The impacts will last for generations."
The sentence for second-degree murder is mandatory life in prison without the possibility of parole. Skerda also sentenced Black to restitution in the amount of $21,200.75, a fee of $250, and costs of prosecution.