Senior Judge Daniel Howsare of Bedford rejected a motion from convicted murderer Jessica Nicole Holtmeyer, 36, of SCI-Muncy, for reconsideration of sentence yesterday at the Clearfield County Courthouse.
Holtmeyer was convicted of murdering 15-year-old Kimberly Jo Dotts in 1998. Holtmeyer hung and bludgeoned Dotts to death with a rock in a wooded area in the Gallows Harbor near Shiloh in 1997. Holtmeyer was 16 at the time of the murder.
She was sentenced to serve life in prison without parole; however in 2012 in Miller v. Alabama, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states could not have mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole for convicted juveniles.
Last December, Howsare re-sentenced Dotts to serve 35 years to life in prison, which means Holtmeyer would be eligible for parole in 15 years.
Holtmeyer’s court-appointed attorney Pat Lavelle of DuBois filed a PCRA (Post Conviction Relief Act) motion for reconsideration of sentence.
Lavelle argued that the 35 years to life sentence is a “de facto” life in prison sentence because the earliest she could be released is 2032 when she would be 51 years old — and she wouldn’t have a “meaningful opportunity” to be integrated back into society.
Lavelle also argued that he believes he U.S. Supreme Court ruling not only gave this court discretion on Holtmeyer’s maximum sentence, but her minimum as well.
First Assistant District Attorney Ryan Dobo disagreed and said the court received a wealth of information prior to sentencing and considered all facets of the case. He said the sentence is legal under Pennsylvania law and believes the defendant is raising these issues to preserve his options for appeal.
“I believe the sentence was appropriate,” Dobo said.
Howsare said he doesn’t believe the 35 year minimum sentence is a de facto life sentence and noted that the 35 year minimum is the sentencing guidelines set by the state legislature and rejected the defendant’s motion.