Oil City Man Sentenced in Beating Death Case

| October 31, 2017

OIL CITY, Pa. (EYT) — An Oil City man who recently pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in connection 2016 assault was sentenced to serve time in state prison Monday in the Venango County Court of Common Pleas.

According to court documents, Joel Stuart Rinker, 23, received a 14- to 60-month sentence from President Judge Oliver Lobaugh after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter in September in connection with a deadly July 2016 assault in Oil City.

Rinker also received an additional total of 12 to 24 months behind bars for two 2013 drug convictions. He was originally accepted into the Accelerated Disposition Program for the first one and probation on the second, but the subsequent guilty plea for involuntary manslaughter resulted in his previous sentences being revoked and re-sentencings on the drug convictions.

The sentences will be served consecutively in the state prison at Camp Hill, meaning Rinker will serve a minimum of 26 months and a maximum of 84 months. He was credited for 306 days served.

According to a criminal complaint filed on July 29, 2016, Oil City Police Officers were sent to the 200 block of Pine Street around 10:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 7, for a report of a man lying in the street.

The man identified as 44-year-old Jerry Buck of Oil City – was sent to UPMC Northwest for treatment. He was transferred to UPMC Hamot in Erie after hospital personnel determined he had bleeding on his brain.

Witnesses said Buck was drunk and was making vulgar remarks to people in the East End neighborhood. Police said Rinker intervened and told the man to stop before returning to his porch, the complaint indicated.

According to the complaint, Buck approached Rinker again and continued to make remarks before Rinker jumped off the porch and punched Buck in the face hard enough for him to fall backward and strike his head on the street.

Rinker then climbed on top of Buck and started hitting him again. Once he realized Buck was unconscious, he stopped punching him, the complaint stated.

Rinker then allegedly dragged Buck across the street and laid him on the sidewalk instead of calling for help, the complaint indicates.

Buck’s brother told Oil City police Chief Bob Wenner in July 2016 that Buck remained hospitalized at UPMC Hamot, and his condition had not improved as he continued to suffer from mini-strokes.

The head injury also resulted in an induced coma and the placement of a stent.

His condition continued to deteriorate over the next four months.

Buck died of his injuries November 22, 2016.

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