Hare could face up to 38 years

Published: 4/21/2017 10:00 AM
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BY MARK GILGER

THE NEWS-ITEM

mark_g@newsitem.com

SUNBURY — Victor Hare III faces a maximum of 38 years in state prison after being found guilty Thursday afternoon of six charges, including felonies of drug delivery resulting in death and involuntary manslaughter.

Hare was charged in connection with the oxycodone toxicity death of 9-year-old Korbin Rager on Oct. 13, 2014, during a sleepover at Hare’s residence, 196 Springhouse Road, Point Township.

Rager, his half-brother, who is now 16, and Hare were present at the sleepover.

A jury of seven women and five men deliberated for four hours before rendering guilty verdicts shortly after 4 p.m. on the felonies and two misdemeanor counts each of recklessly endangering another person and endangering the welfare of children.

The 60-year-old Hare, who didn’t display any outward remorse during the trial, was found not guilty of a felony of aggravated assault and a misdemeanor of indecent assault.

Drug delivery resulting in death and involuntary manslaughter carry maximum penalties of 20 and 10 years imprisonment, respectively. Recklessly endangering and endangering the welfare of children each carry a maximum prison sentence of two years each.

Northumberland County President Judge Charles Saylor, who presided at the four-day trial, ordered a pre-sentence investigation and will sentence Hare within 45 to 60 days.

Upon being escorted from the county courthouse, Hare claimed he was not guilty of any of the offenses filed against him by Point Township Police Chief Joshua VanKirk and vowed to appeal the verdicts.

Rager’s father, John Rager, 56, of Bloomsburg, who attended the entire trial, broke down in tears outside the courthouse. Rager said he was grateful to the jury for finding Hare responsible for his son’s death, but disappointed the defendant wasn’t convicted of all eight charges.

“He should have got all eight,” Rager told the media. “Nobody knows what I’m going through since my son’s death. I believe Hare gave him the oxycodone that killed him.”

Rager said he was angry that his son’s mother, Angela Clark, 32, who currently resides in Williamsport, didn’t attend the trial. “She doesn’t seem to care one bit about what happened to Korbin or she would have been here,” he said.”

Rager blamed Clark for allowing their son to be with Hare multiple times despite the defendant being associated with drugs.

Clark, who was charged in the same case, pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of children and was sentenced Sept. 28, 2015, to one to three years in state prison. She was released from SCI-Muncy after serving a minimum sentence and reportedly is living at a halfway house.

Rager’s lifelong friend, Clarence Reedy, consoled him after the trial.

“This has been very hard on John,” Reedy said. “You can see in his eyes how bad he’s hurting right now. I also believe the jury should have found Hare guilty on all counts, but I believe justice was done. Nobody can bring his son back, but Hare will meet his maker for what he did. I wouldn’t want to be in his shoes in prison. I believe Korbin’s mother should have received the same sentence for taking her son over to Hare’s house while knowing what kind of person he is.”

First Assistant District Attorney Julia Skinner, who prosecuted the case with Assistant District Attorney Michael Seward, said, “I am satisfied with the verdict. Nothing is a sure thing at a trial. I respect the jury’s verdicts. They based their decision on the evidence presented.”

“After four days, it’s clear everyone worked hard and were personally invested in this case,” Seward said. “It was a tragic event that was very emotional for everyone.”

Skinner and Seward commended all the investigators in the case, especially VanKirk and his fellow Point Township officers, along with medical experts, emergency medical services personnel, doctors and others who assisted the prosecution.

Second-year District Attorney Tony Matulewicz also commended everyone involved in the prosecution’s case and particularly praised the efforts of VanKirk, who he described as being “very thorough” in his investigation.

Matulewicz added, “Nothing can bring back Korbin Rager, but because of the passion and dedication of those involved with the case, his story was heard. Justice was done today in Northumberland County.”

The commonwealth, which entered more than 100 exhibits as evidence during the trial, rested its case at 10:20 a.m. after presenting its final three witnesses, including Drs. Samuel Land, Timothy Vollmer and Richard Lambert.

Land, a forensic pathologist who conducted an autopsy on the victim the day after he died at Lehigh Valley Health Network, Allentown, said Rager died from oxycodone toxicity.

“He had an extreme high level (1,200 nanograms per milliliter) of oxycodone,” Land said. “I can’t recall a level that high in the thousands of autopsies I’ve done over the years.”

During Land’s testimony, the jurors were presented graphic photographs of Rager taken at his autopsy. Prior to looking at the photos, Saylor warned the jurors not to let their emotions influence their verdicts.

Land said he didn’t know when the 9-year-old boy took the oxycodone, but he believes the drug was taken in one large dose that caused him to stop breathing very quickly.

Vollmer, an emergency room physician at Geisinger Medical Center, Danville, and Lambert, a pediatrician supervisor at Geisinger, testified that Rager showed no signs of life and had blood flowing out of his nose as they attempted to resuscitate the victim.

Lambert said attempts to revive the boy, who had no pulse, blood pressure or heart beat, were unsuccessful.

Hare’s court-appointed attorney, Brian Ulmer, of Lewisburg, didn’t call any defense witnesses.

Ulmer and Skinner presented closing arguments before Saylor instructed the jury on deliberations.

At 1:20 p.m. Thursday, the jurors briefly re-entered the courtroom to have Saylor define the charge of aggravated assault and clarify testimony regarding DNA.

The judge said testimony revealed that there was no saliva tested for DNA, but DNA was detected on swabs taken from Rager’s groin area.

Saylor defined aggravated assault as an attempt to cause serious bodily injury to another or to cause serious bodily injury purposely, knowingly or recklessly, with an extreme indifference to the value of human life.

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