Man sentenced in prison murder

MERCER – A former inmate at State Correctional Institution Mercer was sentenced to a lengthy prison term after pleading guilty to strangling his cellmate to death last year.

Darl James Heverly, 36, now an inmate at SCI Albion in Erie County, pleaded guilty to murder in the third degree and was sentenced last week to 20 to 40 years in prison. 

“I approved the plea, and he already has a lot of time left to do on his existing charges, which makes those kinds of cases easier to resolve,” Mercer County District Attorney Peter C. Acker said.

Heverly was serving a sentence of 29 to 58 years in prison for robbery and kidnapping charges from 2006 in Union County. 

State police were called to the State Correctional Institution Mercer Dec. 2 in response to a report that an inmate, Jason Albert Kelly, 35, was found dead in his cell.

A corrections officer found Kelly on the floor, bound, gagged and unconscious, according to a police criminal complaint. Kelly was taken to Grove City Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

Police said Heverly admitted to strangling Kelly using strips of torn bed sheets. Heverly told police that he believed Kelly was part of a prison gang and that he had threatened Heverly.

Kelly was serving a five- to 10-year sentence on a conviction in Allegheny County. He had been at SCI Mercer since March 2019.

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