Warning: graphic content
A Pennsylvania man has accepted a generous plea deal that could allow him to leave prison in just 17 years, even though he savagely murdered his mother and snapped pictures of the crime.
On Thursday afternoon, Allegheny County Judge Edward Borkowski sentenced David Sumney, 33, to a minimum of 20 years and a maximum of 40 years for the 2019 murder of his mother, Margaret Sumney, 67, in South Fayette, Pennsylvania, just outside Pittsburgh.
The details of the crime are truly heinous. Sumney was accused of torturing his mother to death and leaving her in a bathroom. Sumney's half-sister, identified only as Ellen, stated virtually at the hearing, "You broke her back. You paralyzed our mother. And then you just beat her and beat her. The blood was splattered along the walls."
Ellen's statement reflected the findings of the Allegheny County medical examiner, who determined that Margaret had suffered several broken ribs and a spinal fracture, which would have paralyzed her from the waist down if she had survived the attack. She also had multiple lacerations and contusions on her face and body.
In addition to the beatings, Sumney reportedly took nearly 300 photos of the grisly murder, including selfies with Margaret's body and selfies with her blood on his face.
"I think the sickest part is the pictures," Ellen added. "The 277 pictures. You only take pictures if you want to go back and see what you did."
Yaron Steinbuch of the New York Post aptly described Sumney as "the son from hell."
Despite the gruesome details, Sumney accepted a plea deal, which allowed the worst charges against him — first-degree murder and abuse of a corpse — to be dropped. Instead, Sumney pled guilty to a single count of third-degree murder.
"I cannot believe I would let myself get in such a state where I could do something so bad, so horrible," Sumney stated in court on Thursday, apparently crying.
“I cannot believe what I did, that I killed my own mother. I cannot stop thinking about it. I think about it every day. I’m sorry, but sorry doesn’t cut it. I handled things as badly as a person could have," he added.
“To my family, to my sisters, and my aunts, I know it’s impossible to forgive me. I don’t forgive myself. I just want to let them know I am truly sorry."
While his attorney, Chris Patterini, advised the judge to sentence Sumney to seven years because he had "expressed remorse," Borkowski held firm at a minimum of 20. The family had wanted Borkowski to reject the plea deal and force Sumney to go to trial.
Since Sumney has been incarcerated since his arrest in 2019, the 20-year minimum sentence, which includes time served, means he could be released in 17 years when he'll be 51 years old.
Ellen and many other family members are outraged at the possibility.
Mary Ellen, Margaret’s older sister, called Sumney "less than a piece of trash" who deserved the death penalty.
Ann Shade, another sister of Margaret, begged the court "to not give him a second chance."
Indeed, it appears Sumney had already been given a second chance and a third. Sumney had already been charged with assaulting his mother in 2014 and again in 2016. He was also charged with assaulting his father, who is now deceased, in 2015. According to the Daily Mail, Sumney avoided serious prison time in each case because his mother begged the courts to be lenient.
In September, Judge Borkowski met with various members of Margaret's family for about 15 minutes. During that meeting, the judge told them, "Cases are resolved on a regular basis against the wishes of family members … and sometimes even victims."
Though Ellen and other family members believe that the criminal justice system has let them down and that justice has not been served in this case, there is a chance that Sumney could be given additional time behind bars. Sumney's ex-girlfriend accused him of torturing her for three days in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in 2019. Though there has not even been a preliminary hearing for that case, Sumney could be given an additional sentence, if he is ever convicted of that crime.
The unidentified woman stated that, while she wishes he had been prosecuted for first-degree murder in the death of his mother, she is nonetheless "happy" with the sentencing. "It let me breathe a lot," she said.