Drug dealer gets 32-year minimum for stabbing

A 25-year-old city man will spend 32 to 64 years in state prison for a June 2011 stabbing.

Larry Travers stabbed Kevin Houseknecht in an empty Newberry lot on the afternoon of June 17, 2011, when a drug deal between the two went sour.

Travers pleaded guilty to charges of attempted murder, aggravated assault, robbery and robbery of a motor vehicle on April 16, 2012, when his case initially was scheduled to go before a jury. He then withdrew his guilty plea on July 24, causing perjury charges to be filed.

A jury returned a guilty verdict on the charges on Jan. 25.

Travers had admitted, in his initial plea, to chasing Houseknecht across the lot and stabbing him two or three times in the neck after the two struggled in the victim’s Plymouth over an envelope containing $2,487. Travers then drove the car away before hitting a deadend and running on foot.

Travers then changed his story, saying he saw Houseknecht flash a knife across his face, then blacked out and acted in self-defense.

Judge Marc Lovecchio read a statement from the victim during the sentencing hearing.

“He should think every day how lucky he is not to be spending the rest of his life in prison because I survived the attack,” Houseknecht wrote.

“I’m sorry for what happened to your son,” Travers told Houseknecht’s father at the hearing. “But I’m innocent.”

“What you say smacks of sincerity, but I think the facts belie your innocence,” Lovecchio told Travers. “Anything that went against what you wanted to happen was your attorney’s fault.

“This is stuff you see on TV. It reminds me of ‘Braveheart,’ ” Lovecchio said. “You’re lucky this wasn’t a capital case. It’s depressing to see a young man throw his life away because he can’t control his anger.”

“The very day this incident took place, he pled down to probation, to a simple assault, for an offense – he broke the jaw of his wife,” said Assistant District Attorney Aaron Biichle. “This is an individual who’s proven both inside and outside of jail he can’t be kept from violence.”

“She broke my rib with a hammer,” Travers said. “I took full responsibility for it.”

Since he was committed to Lycoming County Prison in June 2011, Travers has spent 150 days in disciplinary seclusion for an assault, refusing orders and possession of contraband.

“This is sad because I’m going to impose a sentence that’s going to effectively put you into prison until you’re 85 or 90 years old if you don’t do what you’re supposed to do,” Lovecchio said. “The purpose is to protect society from your misconduct.”