SOUTH FAYETTE, Pa. (KDKA) — The family of a South Fayette woman brutally murdered by her son is asking an Allegheny County judge to rescind a plea bargain that would eventually set him free.
David Sumney is pleading guilty to third-degree murder, but family members want him tried on first-degree murder charges in the death of his mother, Margaret Sumney.
It's a murder horrific beyond description. Not only did David Sumney bludgeon his mom to death, but he took 277 cellphone pictures of himself doing it, including selfies of himself with a blood-smeared face and one with a thumbs up.
Three years later, his half-sister, Ellen, is still in shock at the brutality.
"That for me took it to a new level," Ellen said. "He's dangerous to anybody, taking pictures of it. He had to enjoy it."
But at a recent hearing before Judge Edward Borkowski, the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office dropped several charges and accepted a guilty plea for third-degree murder, reportedly saying Margaret Sumney's family backed the deal.
Ellen said that is not the case.
"Only one family member is for the plea. Everyone else is against it," Ellen said. "And we want David to go to trial with a jury and be convicted of first-degree murder."
A first-degree murder conviction would convey a sentence of life imprisonment without parole. But David Sumney is pleading to third-degree murder, which carries a sentence of between 20 and 40 years. Since he has served three years awaiting trial, he could be released in 17 years.
David Sumney had been arrested for assaulting his mother twice in the past and for once attacking his now-deceased father. Published reports say months after his mother's murder, his ex-girlfriend accused him of trying to strangle her in an Atlantic City hotel room.
"For someone that, it appears, that they enjoyed killing someone, with a violent history, he should never be out in society again," Ellen said.
After his arrest, police investigators went to a room at the Hotel Indigo in East Liberty where David Sumney had been staying. According to the criminal complaint, they found the mother's jewelry and three of her blank checks. Judge Borkowski has a sentencing hearing scheduled for November.
"We're hoping he will remove the plea deal and we can go to trial," Ellen said.
David Sumney's public defender filed motions saying he is mentally ill and an alcoholic.
KDKA-TV contacted the sister who reportedly supports the plea bargain but she declined to comment. The district attorney's office also said it would not comment.
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