The man who beat 16-year-old Blake Shearer, causing a head injury that led to his death, will spend at least eight years in prison, according to a plea deal accepted by a Lancaster County judge Tuesday.
David Skalla, two days shy of turning 25, pleaded guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault in a deal arranged by the Lancaster County district attorney's office.
Judge Margaret C. Miller accepted the agreed upon plea and sentence of 8 to 16 years.
Skalla approached Blake at Elizabethtown Borough Park on Aug. 6, 2018, because the teen's music was too loud, according to Andrew Lefever, assistant district attorney.
Skalla punched Blake between one and five times, knocking him unconscious, Lefever said. Blake was taken to Hershey Medical Center and died Aug. 10, 2018.
Blake was about to enter his junior year at Elizabethtown Area School District, his mother Brooke Hook said in court.
"He loved to listen to music. It was an escape from life's stresses," she said, choking up while reading from a piece of paper.
Blake recently would have turned 17, Hook said. She brought cupcakes shaped like angels' wings and balloons to his grave site.
"It just feels like his life was negotiated," Hook said. "His family and friends get the life sentence of grief."
Police originally charged Skalla with criminal homicide, which was downgraded to involuntary manslaughter in the plea. Miller acknowledged the change and said it was appropriate.
Skalla turned himself in when he learned how serious Blake's condition was, his defense attorney Elizabeth Low said.
"I should have been the bigger man and walked away," Skalla said after apologizing in court.