Columbia man’s appeal of 62-year prison term for firing at police officer denied

LANCASTER COUNTY — A Columbia man serving up to 62 years in prison for shooting at police in a 2016 incident will not be granted a new trial after the Supreme Court denied his appeal, the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday.

Marquell Rentas, 20, is serving a sentence of 30½ to 62 years for opening fire on police responding to a shots-fired call on Bethel Street in Columbia on July 29, 2016.

Rentas was convicted of firing at a 27-year veteran of the police force, one of several officers responding to the call, the DA’s Office said.

The Pennsylvania Superior Court in February denied Rentas’ appeal which argued that a mandatory prison term involved in his sentence was unconstitutional. Rentas petitioned for the Supreme Court to hear that argument; the Supreme Court declined.

First Assistant District Attorney Travis S. Anderson, who won the conviction and represents the Commonwealth in post-conviction matters, presented evidence at trial that Rentas shot at the veteran officer using a high-powered rifle from a hiding place in the Mount Bethel Cemetery, near where Rentas was staying.

As he was arrested, Rentas admitted to firing at police, according to testimony.

Rentas later told a detective, “I hate (expletive) cops.”

At sentencing, Anderson said Rentas was “entirely remorseless.”

The jury convicted Rentas of attempted murder of a law-enforcement officer, conspiracy, assault of a law-enforcement officer and reckless endangerment.

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