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Brothers Who Thought They'd Never Leave Prison Are Freed

They were sentenced to life without parole after victim died of a heart attack
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 19, 2021 10:26 AM CST

(Newser) – In 1980, Pennsylvania brothers Reid and Wyatt Evans went along with their friend when he suggested Reid's inoperable antique shotgun could be used for a robbery. They stole 68-year-old Leonard Leichter's Cadillac and dropped him off at a phone booth. But when he died from a heart attack around three hours later, it became a murder case, and the brothers were sentenced to life without parole as accomplices to second-degree murder after refusing a plea deal. They had expected to die in prison, but they were freed this month after Gov. Tom Wolf granted clemency to them and several other inmates who were serving life without parole despite not having directly killed anybody, NPR reports.

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The brothers, who were 18 and 19 when they were convicted, are now 58 and 59. The ringleader was paroled in 2019. The victim's daughter, Nancy Leichter, wrote a letter supporting the brothers' request to have their sentences commuted. "They committed a terrible crime, but they don’t deserve to die in prison," she says. "I think people are more than the worst thing they’ve ever done." The brothers now plan to get jobs and care for their ailing 86-year-old father. "They’ve been there for 40 years," their father told the Philadelphia Inquirer last year. Their release "would mean the world to me right now because I’m up in age," he said. "Those are my boys." (Pennsylvania has also released America's oldest juvenile lifer, who spent 68 years in prison after being convicted at 15.)

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