YORK, Pa. (AP) – Two black men were sentenced to prison Monday for gunning down a white police officer in 1969, one of the final cases stemming from race riots that left two people dead and dozens injured.

Stephen Freeland was sentenced to nine to 19 years and co-defendant Leon Wright got 41/2 to 10 years. They were convicted of second-degree murder last month.

The men faced a maximum sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison in the death of Patrolman Henry Schaad. Instead, they received the exact sentences handed out to two white men for killing Lillie Belle Allen, a 27-year-old black woman from South Carolina, during the riots.

Robert Messersmith was sentenced to nine to 19 years in prison and Gregory Neff to 41/2 to 10 years in that case. Seven other white men pleaded guilty or no contest to lesser charges, and the city’s former mayor, Charlie Robertson, was acquitted. All but one have been sentenced.

Schaad, 22, was mortally wounded by gunfire July 18, 1969, the second day of rioting, when he and two other officers rode in an armored police truck through a black neighborhood.

Freeland, 51, was accused of firing the fatal shot and Wright, 54, was accused of being among a group of black men who fired at the truck.

On Monday, lead prosecutor William Graff said he planned to file charges against Wright’s brother, Michael, who while testifying admitted he also fired at the armored truck. Prosecutors would not say what charges he would face. A telephone number for Wright, 53, of Baltimore, could not be located. Graff said Wright did not have an attorney.

York County President Judge John H. Chronister said he punished Freeland more severely because of evidence that he possessed a high-powered rifle capable of piercing the armored truck.

Schaad’s older brother, Barry, asked the judge for the maximum sentences and sobbed as he described how the family had suffered without Henry.

“We were prepared to accept this and we’re going to accept this,” he told reporters.

Freeland, who has spent most of his life in prison and is scheduled to finish serving an unrelated drug sentence in 2005, took the witness stand Monday to maintain his innocence. He said racism reigns in York and that a black man cannot receive a fair trial.

“I’ve been convicted illegally from every standpoint that can be imagined,” he said.

Graff, who had asked for the maximum sentences, said the pair got a fair trial.

“Nobody set them up,” he told reporters. “They committed the crime. They got what they deserved. I’m not going to lose any sleep over it.”

Three days after Schaad was shot, Allen was gunned down while she and her family were trying to drive through a predominantly white neighborhood.

Hundreds of state troopers and National Guardsmen were called in to quell the riots, which were touched off by simmering violence between white and black youths.

A state police investigation and a federal civil rights probe both ended without charges in the slayings. Both cases remained dormant for years before prosecutors, saying they had new information, reopened them in 1999. The first arrests were made in 2001.

AP-ES-04-21-03 1619EDT



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