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Reading man sentenced to life in prison for city murder

A Reading man has been sentenced to life in a state prison for the 2021 killing of a 23-year-old city man on Pear Street.

Roland Pena, 22, of the 700 block of Schuylkill Avenue was sentenced Monday by Berks County Judge Eleni Dimitriou Geishauser in the shooting death of Walner Torres-Santana.

A jury in April found Pena guilty of first-degree murder, criminal conspiracy and related counts following a trial before Geishauser.

Pena was sentenced Monday to life in prison without parole on the first-degree murder conviction and to a concurrent sentence of 20 to 40 years on a conspiracy conviction. He also received a concurrent sentence of 3 1/2 to 7 years for carrying a firearm without a license, and a concurrent sentence of 2 1/2 to 5 years for possessing instruments of crime.

Pena did not say anything during sentencing, and the victim’s parents did not wish to make a statement.

Pena had been in custody since April 29, 2021, when he was apprehended while trying to board a plane bound for out of the country at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, police said.

Court documents gave this account:

Early in the morning of April 25, 2021, Reading police were called to the 300 block of Pear Street after learning of a possible shooting.

Officers found Torres-Santana suffering from gunshot wounds to his body. He was transported to Reading Hospital for emergency surgery but died.

An autopsy determined he died of those gunshot wounds.

As part of the investigation, evidence was collected from the scene, including five spent shell casings near where the victim was found. A cellphone was found on Torres-Santana, and a review of its messages showed that shortly before the shooting he gave another person his address.

That individual’s name was listed in the phone as “Rolan Pena.” A picture of a man taken 45 minutes before the homicide was also found on Torres-Santana’s phone.

Police downloaded video surveillance footage from the 300 block of Pear Street and the surrounding area from private homes and businesses.

A witness told police that on the morning of the homicide Torres-Santana called him to come to his home. When the witness arrived, Torres-Santana told him that he was going to meet with a male by the name of “Rolan,” with whom he was having a dispute. The meeting to settle the dispute was to take place outside in the 300 block of Pear Street, the witness said.

Torres-Santana left the apartment, and the witness heard what he believed to be an argument between Torres-Santana and “Rolan,” whose voice he recognized from prior interactions. It sounded like the confrontation turned physical, he said.

The witness then heard three gunshots and a male saying, “Rolan! No! No!” right after the gunshots. When shown the photograph from the victim’s phone he identified the man as Pena, and police determined his first name was actually Roland.

Security videos showed the confrontation, during which one male could be seen shooting another as the victim was lying down. Four males could be seen running from the scene while the victim remained on the ground.

The witness confirmed the shooter was Pena, whose clothing in the video matched that of the man shown on the victim’s phone.

Prosecutors said there was a second shooter among the three other men who ran from the scene, but police have not identified any of those three. They are still being sought, and anyone with information is asked to call Reading police at 610-655-6116, or Crime Alert Berks County at 877-373-9913, or via the AlertBerks smartphone app. No one will ask the name of the caller, who will be assigned a code number.

Source: Berkshire mont

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