Roxborough man gets prison for killing girlfriend's son

Posted: June 01, 2014

JOSEPH ZYSK, the drug-addicted Roxborough man convicted in April of fatally beating his girlfriend's 3-year-old son, was sent to prison yesterday.

Zysk, 30, said nothing before Common Pleas Judge Linda Carpenter sentenced him to 5 to 10 years in state prison for the Jan. 15, 2011, death of Jason Larkin Jr.

Jason died of blunt-force trauma and internal bleeding after suffering body punches at Zysk's mother's home in Roxborough.

After being arrested, Zysk told police he hit the child because he would not stop crying. The jury convicted Zysk of involuntary manslaughter but deadlocked on third-degree murder.

Assistant District Attorney Jack O'Neill said Zysk will be retried for third-degree murder. A tentative trial date has been set for Nov. 10. The maximum sentence upon conviction is 20 to 40 years.

Carpenter told the defendant the sentence she handed down was far above the guideline of 9 to 16 months because of the serious nature of the offense and for the protection of the public.

The death of a child at the hands of an adult, she said, "is one of the most extreme offenses that our society can recognize."

Mary Pat Finn, the victim's grandmother, told Carpenter that the crime devastated and divided her family, as some members blamed her and her daughter, Daniela Gonzalez - Jason's mother - for letting Zysk into their family.

"Although Joseph Zysk's sentencing for involuntary manslaughter will be substantially less than we feel is just, to simply see him being taken to jail, finally, has given me a small sense of peace knowing that he is off the streets," she said.

Zysk's parents, Joseph Sr. and Patricia Zysk, each apologized to the victim's family and tried to accentuate the positive attributes of their son, such as the relationship he has with his daughter.

"Your honor, I love my son very much and I ask that you be fair and merciful," said Joseph Sr., who had words with a deputy sheriff at the end of the hearing and was asked to leave.

During the trial, defense lawyer Evan Hughes told the jury that Zysk should be convicted of manslaughter - not murder - because he never meant to seriously hurt or kill Jason, but only wanted to stop the child from crying.

"He was an exhausted, frustrated parent in the middle of the night who lost control," Hughes said.

The day of the incident, Zysk and Gonzalez had used heroin in front of the child and Zysk's daughter, O'Neill told the jury.

The defendant's rage was due, in part, to the fact that the couple had run out of drugs by nightfall, he said.

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