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Inmate sentenced for trying to hire hitman

January 30, 2009|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Already serving up to 50 years in state prison for shooting a Fulton County man, Gregory Rouzer was sentenced Friday in Franklin County Court to another five to 10 years for trying to hire a hitman to kill his original victim.

Rouzer, 41, of 1291 Possum Hollow Road in Harrisonville, Pa., was convicted last year in Fulton County Court of attempted homicide and related charges and sentenced to 14 years and seven months to 50 years in prison. He pleaded no contest Friday before Franklin County Judge Richard Walsh to criminal solicitation to commit murder.

"Not enough years," Randolph Walters when asked about Rouzer's sentences. Walters was shot by Rouzer outside his Fulton County home on Feb. 7, 2008, and was the intended victim of Rouzer's plan to hire a hitman.

Immediately after Rouzer was sentenced, Mildred Tressler, 47, of 10238 Reeder Road in Mercersburg, Pa., pleaded guilty to hindering apprehension and was sentenced to five years' probation. She also was charged with criminal solicitation to commit murder, but that was dismissed as part of the plea agreement.

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"I think this is crazy. That's all she's getting for this?" Walters said when Walsh asked him if he wanted to say anything prior to sentencing.

Walters later said he knew ahead of time what the terms of Tressler's plea agreement were but "I just wanted to say what I wanted to say."

A Franklin County Jail inmate, monitored telephone calls and an undercover trooper posing as a hired killer were used in the Pennsylvania State Police investigation that resulted in charges against Rouzer, Tressler and Rouzer's father, 81-year-old Kenneth Vernon Rouzer.

Gregory Rouzer was in jail on $1 million bond for the shooting outside Walters' Sipes Mill Road home.

Police said on the night of the shooting Walters' girlfriend, Marian Wertz, saw Rouzer on the property and Walters went outside armed with a shotgun.

Rouzer shot Walters in the elbow, upper arm and neck with a .22-caliber rifle, police said. Rouzer was apprehended Feb. 15 near Chambersburg Hospital, found hiding under a blanket in a van driven by Tressler.

Assistant District Attorney Angela Krom said the prosecution had evidence of the murder conspiracy, including an inmate who told police "Mr. Rouzer had begun speaking to him about the harm he wanted to do to Mr. Walters" and Wertz.

The inmate was placed in Rouzer's cell and on March 12 told police that Rouzer asked if he knew anyone who could keep Walters from testifying against him, police said. The informant told Rouzer he knew someone who could kill Walters and Rouzer provided him with a map of Walters' home and details about his schedule, police said.

Rouzer told the inmate that $1,000 would be left with a candy tin for the killer. The tin would contain drugs "that he wanted scattered around ... to make it appear that the killing was drug-related," the affidavit stated.

Police said the undercover trooper picked up the container March 21. Kenneth Rouzer was charged with delivery of the cocaine and marijuana that was included in the tin of cash, but the charge was later dismissed.

Police monitored calls between Gregory Rouzer and Tressler, and she met with the undercover trooper to discuss details of the plot, police said.

According to testimony in the Fulton County trial, Rouzer's brother was engaged to Wertz in the early 1990s and attempted suicide. Before Christmas 2007, Rouzer showed up at the home of Wertz and Walters, telling them his car had broken down nearby.

Rouzer testified at the trial that he and Walters had agreed to go hunting on the morning of the shooting and he was hiding outside because Wertz did not want him at the house. Walters fired at him first, striking him in the leg, he testified.

Walters testified that Rouzer was lying.

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