Buckles pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, the original charge. Judge Lisa Rice sentenced Buckles to 15 years in state prison. In accordance with the state sentencing law for those convicted of first- and second-degree murder, Buckles will have to serve 100 percent of the sentence. Rice did give Buckles credit for his pretrial confinement from Jan. 7, 2016, until Thursday.
The incident took place on Jan. 7, 2016 at the front entrance to Calloway’s home. Calloway’s wife, Polly Calloway, and mother, Linda Calloway, took the opportunity to speak following Buckles’ sentencing. They said the dispute between the two men was over a $50 debt that Buckles claimed Calloway owed him. Buckles came to Calloway’s residence to collect it.
Prosecutor Dennis Brooks said Buckles had been threatening in his communications over the debt, causing Calloway to carry a tire iron with him when he opened the door. Brooks said Buckles was carrying a cane with a sword hidden inside. Brooks said Buckles stabbed Calloway one time in the chest and did not attempt to enter the residence at 124 Edgewater Road in Valley Forge to stab Calloway again, leading to Buckles being charged with second-degree murder.
Buckles and another man then drove to his residence, where he was arrested a short time later.
Buckles plea comes three years and 10 days since Calloway’s death and less than a month from his scheduled jury trial.
Following sentencing, members of Calloway’s family were allowed to make statements to Buckles. Calloway’s mother and wife did make statements, although Polly Calloway’s statements was read by Brooks. Both women reminded Buckles that Calloway had been his friend and told him how much his death had affected them. But both expressed their Christian faith that compelled them to forgive Buckles. Linda Calloway said she knew that she would one day be reunited with her son in heaven and she expressed hope the tragedy would make it possible for Buckles to finally find salvation in Christ. Polly Calloway also emphasized that she has forgiven Buckles for the death of her husband.
The words of the women had an impact on Rice. She said she had been through many such scenes and the message is usually one of the hatred rather than forgiveness.
Rice permitted Buckles to answer the women. He told them that their wish that the tragedy would cause him to finally accept Christianity had come true. He said his heart had been so hardened before that he totally rejected religion.
Buckles admitted the long friendship between him and Calloway and said his action was an indication of the terrible power that methamphetamine has on those who abuse it.