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Convicted killer to be resentenced due to unique circumstances surrounding his age

The court said it is more than likely Todd Tarselli, who was born in Korea, was actually 17 at the time of the crime, yet, he was sentenced as an adult.

LUZERNE COUNTY, Pa. — A convicted killer may be eligible for parole all because of some unique circumstances regarding his age.

Todd Tarselli was sentenced in 1992 to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Authorities said he killed Mark Bunchalk in January of that year during a robbery at a Kentucky Fried Chicken in Hazleton.

Now, the state superior court ordered Tarselli to be resentenced because of his age. That was based on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said it is unconstitutional to sentence a juvenile to life in prison without parole.

The court said it is more than likely Tarselli, who spent his early years in Korea, was actually 17 at the time of the crime, yet, he was sentenced as an adult.

In court paperwork, the superior court cited cultural differences between the United States and Korea. It noted that in Korea, newborns are already considered to be one year old on the day that they are born.

The court paperwork went on to say Tarselli's age was recorded when he told a social worker in an orphanage in Korea that he was six years old. The paperwork said, "when a child states that he or she is six years old in Korea, they would be five or six in the U.S.A.."

Peter Paul Olszewski was the Luzerne County District Attorney when Tarselli plead guilty to killing Bunchalk in 1992. He tried the case.

"My heart goes out to the Bunchalk family. This was a horrible, tragic, tragic experience for them, and I got to know them," Olszewski said.

The court said this was a close call, and close calls must go in favor of the defendant.

Olszewski disagreed with the court.

"It's a terrible result oriented decision. I think prosecutors all throughout the commonwealth of Pennsylvania will be concerned about this opinion," Olszewski said.

Luzerne County District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce told Newswatch 16 he plans to fight this decision.

A resentencing date for Tarselli has not yet been scheduled.

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