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Charges dropped, York County man released from prison in 2002 homicide

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York County prosecutors have dropped homicide charges filed against York County man more than two years ago. John Ruth, III, of Red Lion was supposed to go to trial next month for the killing of 33-year-old Stacey Farmer. Farmer was shot in the head and died in the driveway of his Windsor Township home in June 2002. Charges were filed in 2012. A DNA lab report found John Ruth’s DNA under Farmer’s fingernails. According to court documents Ruth felt Farmer was a threat to his cocaine supply and wanted to silence him.

Ruth was released from York County Prison after spending more than two years behind bars. “Is it fair to keep an individual in jail when you can’t say you have evidence beyond a reasonable doubt? We don’t believe so, and our ethics dictate otherwise. How do you keep a man in jail when at the end of the day, when you say you don’t have enough evidence to go to trial,” said Chief Deputy Prosecutor Tim Barker.

The District Attorney’s office held a press conference Thursday announce the decision. “We have insufficient evidence at this time to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt against John Ruth, III. So we would need to have additional information, additional evidence, to meet that burden in order to reinstate charges,” said Barker. “One of the problems with cold cases, is the passage of time does have impact with memories. You’re going back and trying to see if people recall things that they had stated from 2002.”

Prosecutors said the investigation will continue and they will use other methods to find Stacey Farmer’s killer. “This will be a forensically driven case, and what we will discover from the evidence we will be testing will lead us on the path to truth,” said Barker.

John Ruth, III could not be reached for comment but his attorney, George Matango said his client is innocent. “He maintained his innocence with the investigators, he maintained his innocence with everyone he talked to. He has been in jail for two years for a crime he said he did not commit. There simply is not proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Ruth committed this homicide,” said Motango.

Lois Kravontka, Stacey Farmer’s mother, said she feels like she is reliving her son’s death all over again. “Two and a half weeks ago the district attorney called everybody in to talk about the trial coming up. He said the jury selection would start March 3rd. After that, the trial was going to start,” said Kravontka. “Then I got a call to go in Thursday, and he was very sad. The district attorney said he had bad news, that they were going to release him because he thought he would be acquitted. There was not enough evidence. I was devastated, totally devastated.”

Kravontka feels her son’s killer has been set free. “They had all of these witnesses. Now they have no witnesses to talk. Nobody will talk. They don’t remember. Ruth’s DNA was under his nails. How would the DNA have gotten under my sons nails? Unless he was fighting back for some reason,” said Kravontka.

She hopes for the truth and closure. “That’s all I want, I just want closure. I want the truth to be known for my son, you know? He didn’t deserve this. A lot of people think he was a bad person. That is all that was ever portrayed about him. But he was a good person. Loving, a kind father, he adored his daughter, and she adored him. It’s been a big loss,” said Kravontka.