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CASEY ZALENSKI CASE
NOT ENOUGH, MOM SAYS
TINA YOUNG GETS 19 TO 40 YEARS AND LARRY TOOLEY GETS LIFE PLUS IN TEEN'S MURDER

By DAVID WEISS dweiss@leader.net

Tuesday, October 28, 2003     Page: 1A

Building Trust: 10/29/03 Because of an error in a court document, a story on page 1A Monday regarding Larry Tooley's sentence contained ncorrect information. The article should have stated Larry Tooley was sentenced to lifein prison followed by 24 to 49 years in prison.
   
    WILKES-BARRE - Her testimony was crucial in convicting Larry Tooley of killing a teenager, but Tina Young still would have received the ultimate punishment if the teen's mother had her way.
    ``If it was up to me, I would give her the death penalty,'' said Shirley Zalenski, the mother of slain 16-year-old Casey Zalenski. ``My son would still be here if it wasn't for Tina Young.''
    An apologetic Young, the family's former baby sitter, accepted responsibility for her role in the November shooting death of Casey Zalenski and was sentenced Monday to 19 to 40 years in prison.
    Tooley, her former boyfriend, was also sentenced Monday to life in prison plus an additional 16 to 32 years in prison. His silence and refusal to apologize at Monday's hearing raised the ire of Casey's family.
    ``You can't even say you're sorry?'' Shirley Zalenski said, staring at Tooley. ``You're a scum.''
    A stoic Tooley, who didn't make any statements in court because of pending charges, was then taken back to prison.
    Police said Young, 34, took Tooley, 46, to the Zalenski's Franklin Township home to steal money the teen was saving to buy a car. The two wanted the money to buy heroin.
    Young pleaded guilty in March to third-degree murder. She was initially charged with second-degree murder, which carries a penalty of life in prison, but prosecutors lowered the charge in exchange for her testimony against Tooley. Third-degree murder carries a maximum of 20 to 40 years in prison.
    And during Tooley's trial last month, Young told jurors how she drove Tooley to the Zalenski home and saw Tooley shoot the teen in the head at a close range.
    The jury found Tooley guilty of first-degree murder, robbery, burglary and criminal conspiracy. Prosecutors sought the death penalty in the case, but the jury couldn't reach a unanimous verdict on whether he should be sentenced to death, forcing the judge to impose the life sentence.
    On Monday, Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. formally imposed the life sentence and tacked on the additional sentences on the lesser charges.
    His sentence came after hearing emotional statements from the Zalenski family, who asked a judge to give Young the stiffest sentence; and Young, who tearfully apologized to Zalenski's family and her own family.
    Shirley Zalenski told Olszewski how Young betrayed a friendship. Zalenski trusted Young in telling her how Casey had saved up more than $2,000 to buy a car. She never thought her friend would come back to steal that money.
    ``I never thought you would abuse that trust,'' she said. ``You used that information to steal from me and kill Casey. You betrayed him.''
    The teen's father, William, said Young took away some of the greatest moments of his life. He'll never get to see his eldest son, who would now be a high school senior, go to his prom or graduation. And he'll never get to see his son pursue his dream of being a U.S. Navy SEAL.
    That was taken away when Young watched the boy get shot and never tried to help him.
    ``You left him there to die like an animal,'' he said. ``What gives you the right to be treated any differently? Tina Young should never have the chance to resume her life.''
    All the family has now are memories that make them cry whenever they think about some of Casey's daily activities and how the family has become isolated and depressed.
    For the first time, Shirley Zalenski also told Olszewski on Monday she never agreed with Young's plea agreement.
    ``She's more guilty than he is,'' Shirley Zalenski said.
    Assistant District Attorney William Finnegan said Shirley Zalenski believed Young deserved more punishment for her role. But she accepted and understood that prosecutors were allowing Young to plead guilty to a lesser charge because they needed her testimony to convict Tooley, Finnegan said.
    Olszewski said he imposed the 19- to 40-year sentence, which is on the higher end of the state's sentencing guidelines, because of the boy's age and Young's failure to help.
    Young's attorney, Frank Nocito, said his client also wanted to send a message, specifically to young people, to stay away from drugs. Heroin, he said, turned Young's normal life into ruins.
    Olszewski agreed.
    ``If there's one person who doesn't think heroin is the biggest problem in Luzerne County, they should have been in this courtroom today.''
   
   
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