Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Teen sentenced in shooting death of friend

Ivan Oberholtzer was sentenced to a juvenile-placement facility and 13 years’ adult probation in the killing of his classmate.

James Gerard Becker III. (Family photo)
James Gerard Becker III. (Family photo)Read more

A FORMER student at the Kensington High School for the Creative and Performing Arts, who had shot a friend to death in March, yesterday was sentenced in the tragic shooting.

Ivan Oberholtzer was 17 at the time he shot and killed his friend, James Gerard Becker III, who was also 17 and a fellow classmate and senior at Kensington CAPA.

Under a negotiated plea deal, Oberholtzer pleaded guilty in August to third-degree murder in adult court with the understanding that he would be supervised in both the juvenile-court system and the adult-court system.

On Monday, Oberholtzer, who turned 18 in July, admitted guilt to the weapons charges in Family Court before Judge Amanda Cooperman and was sentenced to a state juvenile-placement facility until he turns 21, Assistant District Attorney Kristen Kemp said.

Yesterday, during an emotional sentencing hearing before Common Pleas Judge Benjamin Lerner, Oberholtzer was sentenced to 13 years' probation on the third-degree-murder charge, Kemp said.

The dual-jurisdiction sentencing allows Oberholtzer to get treatment and education under the juvenile system, but also gives him a long adult-court probation, during which time he will remain under court supervision, Kemp said. If he violates his probation, he could face 20 to 40 years in state prison on the murder charge, she said.

Kemp called the shooting "reckless" and "truly tragic."

Oberholtzer was playing with a gun he found in his house, on Susquehanna Avenue near Martha Street, in Kensington, when he shot Becker, also of Kensington, about 3 p.m. March 5.

The two friends were in Oberholtzer's bedroom. It was a school snow day. Becker died about 7 that night at Hahnemann University Hospital.

On Twitter: @julieshawphilly