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Judge sentences killer to life, calls him a ‘cold-hearted butcher’

Special from PennLive

WILLIAMSPORT — “I see a butcher, a cold-hearted butcher,” a Lycoming County judge told a Williamsport man before sentencing him to life plus 7 to 14 years for fatally stabbing a man 37 times.

“I need to make a statement, Judge Marc F. Lovecchio said Monday as he was sentencing Rashawn David Williams, 27, who a jury in October found guilty of first-degree murder and related charges.

This was the first time in his nearly 10 years on the bench he has imposed consecutive sentences in a murder case, the judge said. First-degree murder carries an automatic life sentence.

There was no dispute that Williams fatally stabbed Scott Cole, 36, shortly after 1 a.m. on June 22, 2017. The issue for the jury was whether it was homicide, in the heat of passion or self-defense.

First Assistant District Attorney Martin Wade told jurors there is no doubt the attack was carried out with the intent to kill. He cited 15 stab wounds to the back as evidence Cole was trying to get away.

Williams testified he was asleep on the sofa in the living room of his apartment in the 300 block of Locust Street when he was awakened by some touching his behind.

He said he recognized Cole, asked him to leave but the response was he would not until he got what he came after. Williams assumed that meant sex.

Williams, who testified he was “straight,” said he went to the kitchen, obtained a knife, and stabbed Cole. The altercation continued onto the porch and the sidewalk. Cole collapsed in a pool of blood on the sidewalk across the street.

While members of Cole’s family cried or sobbed through most of the more than hour-long sentencing hearing, Williams looked forward or at the ceiling.

Lovecchio made note of that, telling Williams he had not shown “one iota” of remorse. Cole wanted to be your friend and perhaps your lover, he said.

The only time Williams looked where the victim’s family and friends were seated was when Donna Cole through tears described how her son’s death has affected the family.

“You viciously butchered my son,” she said, asking Lovecchio to impose “the harshest sentence on this cowardly person.”

“Scotty” was so brutalized she could kiss only his lifeless hand because his face needed so much repair from the stab wounds to make him look presentable for the family before the casket was closed, she said.

She claimed her son was killed because Williams was concerned about his reputation. “Scotty” was about to make public their relationship, she said.

Cole’s father, brother and two sisters broke down as they described the murder victim as a loving person who would do anything for anyone.

“I never realized all he did for others,’ his father Rick Cole told the judge.” He loved those who were the most unlovable,” Donna Cole said.

Angela Andrews called her brother’s murderer a “cold-hearted monster.”

Williams killed Cole in a brutal way and then lied to try to save himself, his brother Travis Cole told the judge.

The common theme of the 55 letters he received was that Cole was a positive force for so many people, Lovecchio said. Many of the letters referenced his smile, he said.

In contrast, he cited Williams’ seven adult convictions, four juvenile adjudications and 11 misconducts while an inmate at the Rockview state prison for fighting.

“Are we this bad as a society?” Lovecchio asked as he began his sentencing commentary. “Are we this hateful?”

Cole did not deserve to die and he “didn’t deserve to die the way he did,” he said. Under the facts, Williams’ claim of self-defense begs logic, he said.

“The family will never have joy again,” he said. “Something like this destroys the fabric of the community. A life was destroyed for no reason whatsoever.”

Cole’s memory, family and the community deserve justice, Lovecchio said. “We need to be sure the community is protected,” he said.

He imposed the consecutive sentences on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, tampering with evidence and obstruction of the administration of law.

The judge also ordered restitution of $6,500 to the state’s victims’ compensation program.

Williams chose not to address Lovecchio. First Assistant Public Defender Nicole Spring argued for concurrent sentences on the related charges and said an appeal will be filed.

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