Berks

Man convicted in 1987 'redrum' killing goes before judge

Michael Boettlin's life sentence being reviewed

READING, Pa. - A man who, as a teenager, was ordered to spend the rest of his life behind bars for one of Reading's most infamous murders returned to a Berks County courtroom on Thursday.

Michael Boettlin Jr. appeared before Judge Paul Yatron for a re-sentencing hearing, more than 30 years after he participated in the 1987 murder of Stanley Detweiler on South Fifth Street in Reading.

Boettlin, who was 16 at the time of the killing, is now one of several convicted killers in Berks County who must be re-sentenced because of a recent Supreme Court ruling on life terms imposed on juvenile defendants.

Boettlin testified Thursday about the nearly three decades he's spent in prison, and his aunt told the judge about her nephew's upbringing.

The prosecution did not call any witnesses to the stand, but it did submit several written statements from the victim's family members.

Yatron said he will consider all of the evidence and announce a new sentence for Boettlin on October 13.

Boettlin's attorney, Daniel Nevins, told 69 News that he is seeking a sentence that provides the opportunity for parole in the near future. He said he believes the prosecution is seeking something significantly longer.

Berks County District Attorney John Adams declined to comment on the case until the judge issues his ruling.

Boettlin's co-defendant, John Calvaresi, died of natural causes in 2015 while serving a life sentence in state prison. He was 22 at the time of the killing.

The two men, police said, were trying to burglarize Detweiler's apartment when Detweiler surprised them.  

Calvaresi then beheaded Detweiler and used his blood to write "redrum" -- "murder" spelled backwards -- on a wall of the apartment.

The case drew international media coverage because of similarities to the 1980 movie "The Shining," which had been shown on cable television just a few days earlier. In both the case and the movie, which was based on a Stephen King novel, the word "murder" was written backward in blood on the walls.


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