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Collar Bomb Suspect Gets Life Plus 30 Years

By: Harold Hayes
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(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

ERIE (KDKA) –The sentencing hearing for the woman convicted in the death of a pizza deliveryman was held Monday morning.

Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong, 61, was convicted in November for her role in a 2003 robbery in which Brian Wells, 46, had a bomb locked around his neck. He was killed when it exploded before police could defuse it.

Jean Heid, the victim’s sister, came to federal court in Erie with a lot on her mind. She remembers the last words of her brother, Brian Wells, just before a collar bomb exploded outside a PNC Bank in Erie more than seven years ago.

She could hear him on TV say, “I don’t have a lot of time. It’s going to go off.”

But she also thought the defendant, Diehl-Armstrong, was not the mastermind of the plot and was manipulated by William Rothstein who was named in an indictment, but died of cancer before any charges were brought against him.

Heid said as much during her victim impact statement.

“That the killers are still out there, that killed Brian, and it needs to be investigated and brought to justice,” she said. “I believe that Rothstein set her up to be at different locations.”

Heid was also angry that his head was removed during the autopsy to preserve the collar bomb for investigation.

“We could not have closure because we could not have an open casket at the viewing,” Heid said.

Diehl-Armstrong told the judge, “My heart goes out to his sister. She spoke the truth. The true killer is still out there…I’ll be damned if I’m going to take the heat for this. I’m not a crazed killer.”

Prosecutors said there’s no mystery here. The case, they say, has been solved. The prosecutor called Armstrong a “manipulative narcissistic conniving and scheming woman.”

“This investigation has been over seven and a half years,” U.S. attorney David Hickton said. “It has involved thousands and thousands of hours and forensic work, ultimately involved some jailhouse talk from Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong, and then a full public trial over three weeks.”

“We are satisfied that the puzzle has been solved and justice has been served here,” he added.

Prosecutors say the defendant killed her boyfriend to keep him silent about the plot. She’s serving a separate state sentence in that case.

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