1984 Sentencing Guidelines Save Teen's Killer From Sticker Sentence - NBC 10 Philadelphia

1984 Sentencing Guidelines Save Teen's Killer From Sticker Sentence

George Shaw gets up to 27 years for 1984 killing of 14-year-old girl in Bensalem. Judge says sentence would have been longer if not for decades'-old guidelines.

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    George Shaw will spend at least 13.5 years in prison for the murder of Barbara Rowan. Shaw was convicted of 3rd degree murder in July for drugging and suffocating Rowan then dumping her body on the side of the road. A witness testified that he helped Shaw hide the body. (Published Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017)

    More than three decades after 14-year-old Barbara Rowan's body was found on the side of a Bucks County road, her killer is serving more than a decade behind bars. But, the judge wishes the sentence was longer.

    A Florida man has been sentenced to 13.5 to 27 years in the killing of the suburban Philadelphia teenager.

    George Shaw, 57, was convicted in July of third-degree murder and attempted indecent assault but acquitted of rape in a nonjury trial.

    At sentencing, Common Pleas Court Judge Wallace Bateman Jr. spoke about being bound to 1984 sentencing guidelines rather than modern guidelines.

    “You have truly been a beneficiary of the delay in bringing you to justice,” Bateman told Shaw.

    “You are a murderer,” the judge said. “You have lived 30 years without paying your debt to society [while] the Rowan family has been given a life sentence by your hand... The bottom line is, you took the life of such a young girl, and then you got to live your life.”

    Bucks County authorities said Shaw drugged and suffocated 14-year-old Barbara Rowan in an apartment in the Trevose section of Bensalem in August 1984, then dumped her duct tape-bound body along a highway with the help of a friend. Her body was found 13 days later of U.S. Route 1.

    Through his attorney, Shaw maintained his innocence, saying Rowan was killed by someone else. Defense attorney Louis Busico attacked the credibility of the testimony of a prosecution witness who pleaded guilty to hindering apprehension.

    Under law in effect in 1984, the maximum term for third-degree murder was 10 to 20 years.

    Getting the conviction was a challenge for prosecutors.

    “It was very challenging, but we’re pleased that George Shaw is now convicted as a murderer, and as a sex offender, two things we knew to be the case,” Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Schorn said.