A Pennsylvania man was sentenced to 20-years in prison after assaulting an elderly woman during a home invasion robbery; but the day wasn’t as bad as it could have been, because he married his girlfriend only an hour later.
As reported by the Associated Press, 47-year-old Greg Howard didn’t even leave the courthouse between receiving a staggeringly long prison sentence and getting hitched. Greg Howard learned that he’d be locked up for two decades, then simply walked to another room in the courthouse to have a brief wedding ceremony.
It was not exactly an extravagant celebration. In attendance was Greg Howard, his bride, her baby, five deputies, and Judge Richard E. McCormick, Jr., who presided over the marriage. Authorities did allow Greg Howard to change into civilian clothes for the wedding, instead of having to wear a prison jumpsuit. But he remained shackled during the entire ceremony.
Greg Howard was convicted of a 2014 robbery and the assault of 91-year-old Frances Tekavec, with the help of two accomplices. The men gained access to the house by pretending to deliver furniture. They then tied the elderly woman to her bed by the ankles and wrists and proceeded to steal $13,000 and jewelry. Tekavec was left severely injured from the invasion.
“Thank God she is here today and didn’t die in the incident,” said Judge Rita Hathaway at the sentencing. “Certainly there are very serious effects she has suffered because of the crime committed against her.”
According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Greg Howard made no comment in court as he was informed he’d spend the next 20 years in prison. Greg Howard chose to represent himself during the proceedings, instead of relying on a lawyer. This proved to be a costly mistake, especially considering his bizarre closing argument, which included mentions of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and several other cultural holiday icons.
Despite Howard’s best efforts, the jury only took 43 minutes to convict him of aggravated assault, robbery, and conspiracy. Greg Howard previously requested a mistrial but was denied.
Frances Tekavec was present in the courtroom on Thursday but also chose to remain silent during the sentencing. However, the elderly woman had written a letter regarding the attack she endured from Greg Howard and his accomplices, which Judge Hathaway read aloud. The letter revealed that the injuries she sustained during the home invasion have been irreparable. Tekavec is now restricted to a wheelchair and deals with chronic pain as a result of being assaulted and bound to a bed. She claims she can no longer perform basic daily tasks like brushing her hair.
“My back is bad. My neck is not healed, so I’m walking around with this the rest of my life,” Frances told local news. “I wake up many nights in a sweat.”
Though Greg Howard served as his own lawyer, he did have defense attorney Tim Dawson present, who asked for lenience in the sentence since the two accomplices were responsible for most of the violence done to the elderly woman. Greg Howard was actually sentenced to 40-years in prison, but Judge Hathaway granted Dawson’s request for concurrent sentences, reducing the total time behind bars to 20 years.
The other men involved in the robbery, Lamont Dixon, 35, and Branddon Danilchak, 28, will be charged at a later date.
Despite the evidence stacked against Greg Howard and his ineffective closing statements, it seems that his girlfriend chose to stay with him — and commit herself to the inmate for the rest of her life.
Would you choose to marry Greg Howard if you were in the same position as his fiancé?
[Greg Howard images: Westmoreland County Prison; Frances Tekavec image: WPXI]