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Man Sentenced In K-9 Officer's Fatal Stabbing Case

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - A man found guilty in the stabbing death of K-9 Officer Rocco was sentenced this morning.

In court today, the judge told John Rush that by the age of 22 he had racked up quite a lengthy record for not only this offense, but several others in the past.

Today, Judge Jill Rangos sentenced him to 17 years, 9 months to 44 years in prison with eight years of probation.

Rush's sentencing took less than 25 minutes.

Pittsburgh Police Officer Phil Lerza's was Rocco's handler. Lerza said that he lost his partner and a family member when Rush killed the K-9 in January of 2014 and that the loss impacted not only him, but his wife and kids.

Rush was convicted in December for stabbing and killing Rocco and injuring three other officers inside of a Lawrenceville basement.

Authorities had been looking for Rush after he violated an order to register as a sex offender.

Rush's mother, Renee, had to be removed during the trial for an outburst. Today, she was warned by Judge Rangos that she would issue a citation if it happened again.

Renee Rush remained quiet, but did have the prosecution read a statement that she knew her son was dangerous and had mental health issues.

She said she was comfortable with a lengthy prison sentence for him because at least he would be receiving his medication.

His mother wanted the court to know that even she was afraid of her son and would lock her door when he would stay with her.

Officer Lerza didn't want to speak about the sentencing on camera today, but told KDKA-TV's Christine D'Antonio that he was very happy with the outcome.

This incident prompted a push for tougher penalties for killing a police animal. Rocco's Law was put into place in July.

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