Sheldon Jeter sentenced to life in prison without parole in the fatal shooting of Tyric Pugh in 2020.By Andy Sheehan

BEAVER, Pa. (KDKA) — Sheldon Jeter is going to prison after a Beaver County judge denied his attorneys’ motion for a mistrial in the conviction for the shooting death of Tyric Pugh in Aliquippa.

Judge Kim Tesla sentenced Jeter to life in prison without the possibility of parole on Wednesday morning. It is the maximum sentence for first-degree murder under state guidelines.

READ MORE: Sheldon Jeter's Attorneys Seeking Mistrial In Tyric Pugh Homicide Conviction

In the legal brief filed Tuesday, Jeter’s attorneys asked for a hearing to argue for a mistrial. They called into question the impartiality of Juror No. 3, who voted to convict during the trial.

On Wednesday morning, before the sentencing, the judge denied that motion.

Judge Tesla said it was not a cause for a mistrial, and added that there was overwhelming evidence against Jeter in Pugh’s death.

Jeter’s attorney, Michael Santicola, said he will be filing an appeal on the decision.

“Yes, the post-trial motions and ultimate appeal are going to be filed,” Santicola said. “In the post-trial motion, we are certainly going to raise the issue of this juror, and we believe and we’ve spoken to other lawyers and some appellate lawyers that agree with us, that this is grounds for a possible mistrial.”

Last month, a jury found Jeter guilty of first-degree homicide in Pugh’s 2020 fatal shooting. Pugh and Jeter were close friends.

READ MORE: KDKA Investigates: Transcripts Reveal Conflicted Juror In Sheldon Jeter Homicide Conviction Was Married To His Relative

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Following the trial, KDKA Investigates reported that it was found Juror No. 3 was a next-door neighbor to the family of Rachael DelTondo, the slain schoolteacher with whom Jeter once had a romantic relationship.

In 2018, DelTondo was shot several times in her parent’s driveway, just feet from a home that KDKA confirmed is owned by the female juror’s parents.

Though he’s never been formally named a suspect, Jeter has been under investigation in connection with the DelTondo murder for the past three years. Since that time, Jeter has garnered national attention as a possible suspect in the murder. But the defense said when questioned during jury selection, Juror No. 3 revealed no knowledge of Jeter or the present case.

Santicola argued the verdict was tainted because the juror lived next to the DelTondo family. He also contends the juror was aware that Jeter is a person of interest in that homicide.

“A sensational murder case that is well-known to everyone in this courtroom and just about everyone in Beaver County,” Santicola said. “This is exactly what is extraordinary, and exactly what it is egregious and why we should have a mistrial.”

KDKA also obtained transcripts of the court’s questioning of the juror.

They revealed that she was actually married to — and apparently divorcing — a relative of Jeter. The defense also produced a picture of Judge Tesla presiding over the couple’s civil wedding ceremony and cited a specific line of questioning at jury selection.

But Judge Tesla said all questions about the DelTondo case should have been asked at jury selection. There was no challenge for cause by either side, and both sides said the juror was acceptable. The judge also said there was no proof the juror discussed the case with her family or other jurors.

“These are allegations of hearsay based on hearsay,” the judge said. “They could have been talking about the weather for all I know, and I’m not going to order a new trial for that.”

Tesla sentenced Jeter after hearing from Pugh’s mother, Thelma.

“I walk around and feel like I have a hole in my heart. I have days when I cry uncontrollably for hours, I miss my son so much. Sheldon, we would like to know why? … If more years can be added we would support that so Sheldon will never be able to walk the streets again,” she said.

But Jeter’s uncle said his nephew and Pugh were friends.

“Why would he? What about the motive?” said Michael Moreland.

MORE NEWS: KDKA Investigates: Juror In Sheldon Jeter Homicide Trial Was Rachael DelTondo’s Neighbor

Barring any successful appeals, Jeter will spend the rest of his life in prison without the chance of parole.