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Man sentenced in assault

August 19, 1998|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A Chambersburg man who pleaded guilty but mentally ill to a near-fatal assault last year was sentenced Wednesday to spend 41/2 years in Franklin County (Pa.) Prison.

Judge John R. Walker sentenced Robert N. Rapp, 48, to five to 12 years in state prison, then suspended that sentence, giving him a dozen years on probation with the local jail sentence. He was also fined $300 and ordered to pay restitution to the victim, Shawn Murray.

Although diagnosed with chronic schizophrenia, Rapp entered the guilty plea on June 24, according to court records.

Walker ordered a July 22 sentencing hearing to allow further investigation about where he would serve his sentence.

Normally, those convicted of a first-degree felony with a sentence of more than two years have to serve their time in a state prison, according to state law.

Rapp was convicted of stabbing Murray, 30, formerly of Chambersburg, 10 times in an attack in the men's room at the Washington House bar in Chambersburg.

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Murray, who is in prison on unrelated charges, said in court that he feared Rapp, according to Franklin County District Attorney John F. Nelson.

"We've been in the yard before and played Ping-Pong together," Rapp said of the time he and Murray have been in jail.

Rapp's sister, Elizabeth Tarner of Silver Spring, Md., asked for leniency, saying her brother has suffered a lifetime of physical and mental problems, including seeing his twin brother killed in a traffic accident.

David Harrison of Chambersburg was called in by Rapp's attorney, Michael Toms, to speak at Wednesday's hearing. Harrison was with Rapp and Murray the night of the stabbing and said the attack was provoked.

Harrison said "there were names called" and Murray struck Rapp in the barroom. Later, when Murray and Harrison were in the restroom, he saw Rapp attack Murray, he said.

"I saw blood everywhere," Harrison said.

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