Life in prison in beer can homicide case


JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ohio - It was a senseless crime that left many people scratching their heads.

On March 27 in a home in Steubenville, a man was killed during an argument on who would drink the last can of beer. On Tuesday morning, the suspect, calling himself a cold-blooded killer, was sentenced life in prison.

"I sincerely regret what I did that night," convicted killer Richard Hendershot said in court. "Mr. Hazuda was my friend for 3 years before I killed him, and I have remorse for that and that's all."

It was an even-keeled confession from Hendershot to what was described as a very violent night.

According to Jefferson County Prosecutor Frank Bruzzese, Hendershot had Hazuda in a choke hold, the two men struggled, Hazuda lost that struggle and was on the ground when Hendershot proceeded to kick him until he was dead.

Prosecutors say the Steubenville police responded to the scene within minutes, even witnessing Hendershot trying to throw Hazuda's body down the stairs. Hendershot threatened to kill his own wife if she didn't help get rid of the body, but she took off. That event let to a charge of witness intimidation -- one of five counts Hendershot pled guilty to Tuesday morning.

His sentence -- life in prison with a possibility of parole after 20 years -- was handed down by Judge Michelle Miller.

Steve Stickles, Hendershot's defense attorney, said in recent months his client spent a lot of time soul searching and preparing for his plea.

"It was very hard for him to come to grips to the fact that he killed his friend," Stickles said. "The most heinous part of this is that is friend is gone, but Mr. Hendershot will have to live with the fact that he's the one that took his friend's life."

Hazuda was from out of state and none of his family members present in the courtroom. However, Hendershot's wife was there. In fact, since the murder, she gave birth to their son. She allowed Hendershot to see a picture of him before he was taken to jail to begin serving that life sentence.

There is a co-defendant in this case. Victor Lytle is due in court later this month on charges of tampering with evidence and falsification.

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