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News

PA Judge Denies Compassionate Release For Killer Dying Of Stage 4 Cancer

Earl Box
Earl Box Photo Credit: Dauphin County District Attorney's Office

A Dauphin County judge denied a compassionate release for an inmate dying of inoperable Stage 4 colon cancer who is serving a life sentence for murder, says PennLive.

Earl Box, 74 is serving a life sentence for killing a Steelton man during a robbery in 1974, and had requested to be moved to his daughter’s Berks County home for hospice care.

A state prison doctor estimated that Box has less than six months to live.

Lifers getting released in Pennsylvania is unusual but not unheard of. For example, Joe Ligon, 83 of Philadelphia made national headlines in March when he released as a juvenile lifer.

Ligon was also serving a life sentence for killing a man during an armed robbery back in 1953, according to CBSNews.

And just like Ligon, his case involved a string of robberies committed with a group of other young men.

For Box, the fatal shooting occurred during a string of robberies committed in Dauphin and Cumberland counties by a gang to which Box belonged. Box shot and killed 21-year-old John B. “JB” Mueller III, the son of Mueller Tavern owners.

Both men were appealing for release under new state law, but Box was denied the release for two reasons:

The first reason came from the victim’s family and Dauphin County District Attorney Frank Chardo. “It is clear that the victim’s family has not been able to heal from this horrendous crime,” Chardo said in a release in early April.

“From their perspective, (Box) has never taken any responsibility for the crime or expressed any compassion for the victim or his family,” the judge added on Friday according to PennLive. “It is clear that they will never have closure until (Box) takes his last breath, and they clearly want that last breath to occur in prison.”

The second reason is compassionate, as the Judge feels the prison infirmary is better equipped than Box’s daughter’s home to address his medical needs.

“Hopefully, the prison will be able to make appropriate arrangements for his family to have contact with him, at least virtually, if not in person,” the judge said according to PennLive.

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