The chains of justice rattle around the wrists of Terrence Roach as he walks into a court room Wednesday morning. One family might tell you they deserve to be tighter.
He’s the man convicted of confining and abusing the body of Aleah Beckerle. Judge Robert Pigman sentenced him to spend more than a decade in prison.
Defense attorney, Glenn Grampp represented Roach through his 3-day trial last month and ultimately helped him be acquitted of killing the disabled teen.
“He shows almost no emotion of any kind. He's almost a flat affect, and I think that speaks to his character, frankly,” Grampp says.
Before sentencing, Judge Pigman allowed Aleah’s mother Cara Beckerle, grandmother Lydia LaRue, and great-aunt Laura Jackson to address the court. They choked back tears while reading from prepared statements.
Cara said in part, “There are no words to describe what we as Aleah's family go through every day. I wake up every morning and grieve for my daughter. I talk to her and always tell her how much I love her and miss her.”
LaRue said, “Aleah's family has been given a life sentence of heartache, nightmares, grief, fear, anger.”
Family spoke for several minutes and asked the judge to give the maximum sentence. They almost got their wish.
Roach was found guilty of hurting Aleah before her death and abusing her body after her death. A jury convicted him of criminal confinement and abuse of a corpse.
Judge Pigman gave Roach 17 years in prison; one-year shy of the max.
“I’m not surprised by it,” says Grampp. “To think the judge is going to give him a lot of sympathy, I think is certainly a stretch.”
Seventeen years is whole lot less than Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Nick Hermann hoped for with 3 murder charges.
“[The jury] came back with the verdict that they did. I don't agree with it, I don't have to agree with it, but I do have to respect it,” Hermann says.
Roach has 30 days to decide if he will appeal the sentence. Grampp asked for a public defender to represent Roach in any appeal attempt. Roach will remain in the Vanderburgh County jail until he decides.
He’ll be back in court for a final time July 26 to address Judge Pigman on potential appeal.
Aleah's family left the court room without saying a word more. Their lives are changed forever, with more than a decade to dwell on this decision.
Roach was quiet as he left, too, with an escort of bailiffs taking him back to jail.
Chains clanked against his wrists and ankles. “Do you have anything you want to say?” Eyewitness News reporter Stuart Hammer asked Roach.
“They’d like to know what really happened,” says Grampp. “I hoped that would come out at some point. I don't think it has.”
Roach walked away in silence. It seems to represent everything that's lost.
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(This story was originally published June 27, 2018)
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