Pennsylvania teen gets 80-year sentence for brutally murdering 71-year-old grandfather, stealing $30,000 cash
18-year-old Gabriella Long pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the death of her grandfather Joseph Monka in April 2019
WILKES-BARRE, PENNSYLVANIA: A teenager received a sentence of up to 80 years in prison after admitting her role in the tragic murder of her grandfather last year. 18-year-old Gabriella Long pleaded guilty on Monday to third-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the death of her 71-year-old grandfather, Joseph Monka, in his Edwardsville residence in April 2019. Shortly after her admission, County Judge William H. Amesbury sentenced Long to serve 17½ to 40 years on each count consecutively, meaning Long could spend anywhere between 35 to 80 years in state prison.
Long was 17 and staying at her grandfather's Arch Street home at the time of his killing. She is the third of four defendants in the case to plead guilty to his murder.
Long and three others — Christopher Cortez, Devin Cunningham and Mercedes Hall — allegedly set a trap for Monka as they plotted to steal cash that he purportedly kept locked up in a basement safe, prosecutors said.
Long reportedly pretended to be in distress and called out to her grandfather for help, prosecutors allege. When he rushed to rescue his granddaughter, Cortez and Cunningham ambushed Monka – stabbing him dozens of times and brutally beating him with a golf club. After battering him to death, the four defendants reportedly stole about $30,000 in cash from Monka’s safe and drove off in his vehicle.
Cortez, who pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in June, was sentenced to 35 to 80 years in state prison. Hall was just 16 at the time of the heinous crime. She is yet to be sentenced despite pleading guilty to third-degree murder. Cunningham, meanwhile, is charged with homicide, criminal conspiracy, theft, and robbery. However, he has not entered a plea agreement or faced trial in county court.
Assistant District Attorney Jarrett Ferentino said Long is likely to spend at least 40 to 50 years in prison. Prosecutors agreed to withdraw a number of charges, including theft and tampering with evidence, in exchange for her guilty plea.
In another shocking episode in May, an Arizona resident reportedly slit his 81-year-old grandmother's throat because he "was tired of taking care of her." Helen Smith was allegedly killed by 30-year-old Brandon Smith, who was charged with first-degree murder in his grandma's death. She was found in the bathroom of the house that she had shared with Brandon in Chandler. Authorities from Chandler Police Department said that Helen, who suffered from dementia, was found with multiple stab wounds at the scene.
According to the arrest report, Brandon told law enforcement that he became frustrated after Helen allegedly urinated on herself one fateful morning. He subsequently took her to the bathroom for a shower and slapped her in the face, leading Helen to fall in the tub and lose consciousness, according to WFSB.
Brandon said it was then that he realized he didn't want his grandma to "live like this anymore." So, he grabbed a knife from the kitchen and slit his grandmother's throat in the tub. Immediately after, the 30-year-old dialed 911 and reported to authorities that his grandma was "not breathing" and that it looked like "someone had beaten her up and sliced her throat."
According to law enforcement, Brandon was already on probation for aggravated assault.