Page 3February 9, 2011
Former Mercyhurst volleyball player resentenced
A three-year-old case against aformer Mercyhurst College volley-ball player came to a close Friday morning at the Erie County Court-house. Judge Ernest J. DiSantis Jr. sen-tenced Teri Rhodes to a minimumof three years and four months instate prison stemming from a vol-untary manslaughter charge in the Aug. 12, 2007, smothering of hernewborn daughter.Rhodes, 22, had previously beengiven nine to 18 years for voluntary manslaughter in a November 2008ruling by Judge William R. Cun-ningham. A Pennsylvania SuperiorCourt overturned that sentence in2009, citing a belief that Cunning-ham had acted impartially in sen-tencing Rhodes for a duration shehad not agreed to in a plea bargain. The investigation, the contro- versial charge of voluntary man-slaughter (a crime committed afterprovocation from the individualkilled—in this case, a newbornbaby), and Cunningham’s initial sen-tence divided the Erie and Mercy-hurst communities. Some believedhis punishment too severe, othersthought it not stiff enough.DiSantis’ sentence carries a max-imum term of six years and eightmonths.“I think his decision was fair forthis crime,” said Rhodes’ lawyer,Philip Friedman, after the 9 a.m.sentencing. “We would have liked alesser sentence, but we can’t com-plain.”Rhodes, then an 18-year-oldsophomore, delivered the baby alone in a college apartment bath-tub at 3810 Briggs Ave. Policefound the child’s body hours later wrapped in a plastic bag.She had not told anyone—family,friends, teammates or roommate Julia Butler—that she was expect-ing. Butler returned from volleyballpractice that Sunday afternoon,later telling police she heard Rhodesin the bathroom making noises tosuggest she was in pain.Butler contacted former vol-leyball assistant coach Sarah King, who took Rhodes to the hospitalafter the birth while investigationinto the infant’s death began.“I just want to tell you how sorry I am,” Rhodes said as she stoodbefore DiSantis on Friday. “If Icould change anything from thatday, I would... I will try, every day for the rest of my life, to atone forthat day.”Following her release from ErieCounty Prison on $25,000 bond in
February 2009, she returned hometo Commerce, Mich., and enrolledat Oakland University.She had been expected to gradu-ate with a degree in computer sci-ence in spring of 2012.“There’s no question she’s a goodkid,” Friedman told DiSantis during the proceedings. He had soughta reduced sentence without timeserved in a correctional facility.“She’s not the type of person who belongs in prison,” he said.Both DiSantis and Erie County District Attorney Jack Daneriacknowledged Rhodes’ positivebehavior since the incident, herclean record prior to August 2007and her remorse for the crime.Still, they each asserted that herconduct must be punished. Danerisaid he has received some 60 lettersfrom those close to Rhodes vouch-ing for her character. Of those,he said only three mentioned thechild’s life.“The Commonwealth is hereto provide a vision of that littlegirl...(who) would be about thishigh,” he said as he held his hand afew feet off the ground.“That’s what we’re here for,”Daneri said. “It is my duty to bring a case against (Rhodes) withoutmalice.”Rhodes, who—along withher assembled family—sobbedthroughout the proceedings, thenbecame openly distraught and wasprovided a chair by court ofﬁcers.She will be credited with threemonths served from November2008 to February 2009. DiSantisalso recommended Rhodes con-tinue to receive psychiatric aid andpursue educational opportunitiesduring her prison sentence. Toward the end of his dialogue,DiSantis acknowledged he wasabout to sentence Rhodes for the wrong charge.“This is not a case of voluntary manslaughter,” he said. “I wantedto say this case ﬁt into a peg. Itdidn’t.”Instead, he argued, Rhodes’ case was broader and should bring abouta discussion of how this country views and deals with teenage preg-nancy.“Society has to provide supportand counseling to young people,”he said, “so they don’t have to wres-tle with this all alone.”
By Ethan Magoc
Teri Rhodes walked into the Erie County Courthouse on Friday,Feb. 4, for a resentencing before Judge Ernest DiSantis.
Ethan Magoc photo
Parkhurst Dining Services, adivision of Eat’n Park Hospitality Group headquartered in Pittsburgh,challenged the colleges the company caters to see which could sell themost food to its students for SuperBowl festivities and tailgating.“Only 10 people purchased food with us for this event.” Of those 10,“a few were faculty,” said Kim Novak,general manager for Parkhurst atEgan Dining Hall and dining facili-ties at North East campus.Even though students had a spanof a week and a half decided to pur-chase food from Egan for Super Bowlfestivities, which they could have pur-chased with dining dollars or campuscash, less than 10 students purchasedthe Super Bowl food. Junior Michelle Tatavosiandecided not to purchase Egan’sfood for the Super Bowl.“It’s cheaper to go eat at Eganor buy food from WalMart beforethe Super Bowl than pay for cateredfood from Egan,” she said.Novak was not surprised thatmany students chose not to pur-chase the Super Bowl food.“This is not uncommon,” Novak said, “People would rather go outto eat and drink” instead of buying food from the school cafeteria. Another reason for the lack of interest is that Erie “has many teams here: Steelers, Browns, Bills,and not everyone wants to cheerfor the Steelers,” Novak, a devoutBrowns fan, said. This is true especially whenalmost all of the food items on themenu had Steelers names associ-ated with them, such as ARTichokeRooney Dip, 3 River Sausage & Dipand Steel Curtain Pizzas.Novak, who has been working at Egan since August 2009 and has worked at other colleges before,said, “We advertised well, using thenapkin holders in Egan, the Portaland the Morning Buzz.” The average price for the itemson the menu was $22.25. Most of the menu items served 15 people ormore. The “3foot” Super Bowl sub with chips, which serves 25 to 30people, cost $65.“The food was too expensive, andmy friends and I had fun making ourown food for our Super Bowl party,”junior Jackie Ropelewski said.Robert Morris University in Pitts-burgh won the Parkhurst challengefor selling the most Super Bowlfood to its students, Novak said.
Students pass on Parkhurst’s Super Bowl food
By Mike Gallagher
An exterior view of 3810 Briggs Ave. two weeks after formerstudent Teri Rhodes smothered her newborn baby.
Scoot Williams photo