Catasauqua Press

Friday, August 17, 2018
PRESS FILE PHOTOA memorial is created at the scene of a 2015 crash that killed 9-year-old Darious Condash, who was a student at Sheckler Elementary School. PRESS FILE PHOTOA memorial is created at the scene of a 2015 crash that killed 9-year-old Darious Condash, who was a student at Sheckler Elementary School.
PRESS FILE PHOTOSRoyce Atkins PRESS FILE PHOTOSRoyce Atkins
Darious Condash Darious Condash
A football helmet is placed atop a memorial set up on Schoenersville Road, where 9-year-old Darious Condash was killed in 2015 while crossing the street. A football helmet is placed atop a memorial set up on Schoenersville Road, where 9-year-old Darious Condash was killed in 2015 while crossing the street.

Staying behind bars

Wednesday, August 1, 2018 by Bernie O’Hare Special to The Press in Local News

Superior Court panel affirms Royce Atkins’ prison term for death of Sheckler student

A hit-and-run driver, whose car struck and killed a 9-year-old boy in 2015 as he crossed Schoenersville Road, will stay behind bars for at least four years.

A three-judge panel of the Pennsylvania Superior Court July 20 affirmed a four- to 10-year sentence imposed by President Judge Michael Koury Jr. against Royce Atkins, now 25, for failing to stop after his blue 2007 MazdaSpeed struck Darious Condash, a fourth-grade student at Sheckler Elementary School.

Testimony in this case showed the 9-year-old darted out onto the street to pick up a dropped piece of candy. Forensic evidence gathered at the scene and from the car established Darious was struck by the car while bending over, possibly out of the view of Atkins. It also established, however, the boy’s face, head and shoulders would have, at some point, been visible.

Atkins had testified he was aware he had struck something but thought it was a pothole or the center median. He told friends at a party that night he had struck a deer on Steuben Road.

Assistant District Attorney Joseph Lupackino told the jury Darious was “face to face” with Atkins until the force of the collision actually made him briefly airborne, knocking him right out of his sneakers.

Following a four-day trial in 2016, Atkins was convicted of failing to stop and render aid. This carries a mandatory three-year minimum sentence.

Before being sentenced, Atkins made phone calls from jail. Though he was aware he was being recorded, he allegedly made a number of derogatory remarks about Koury, the district attorney and the victim’s family.

Atkins was unhappy Darious’ family had packed the courtroom during the trial, too, suggesting members should be working instead of sitting there.

In imposing a four-year minimum, Koury considered Atkins’ lack of remorse and callous comments about the victim’s family. He explained the death of a child is the most unnatural event that can occur to us as humans.

Quoting from “An Orphan’s Tale,” Koury said, “A wife who loses a husband is called a widow. A husband who loses a wife is called a widower. A child who loses his parents is called an orphan. There is no word for a parent who loses a child. That’s how awful the loss is.”

The Superior Court unanimously affirmed the sentence, finding Koury acted well within his discretion.

Atkins is currently located at Rockview Penitentiary in Bellefonte, a medium-security facility.