Their Stories

William Smith

In 1968, William Smith and William Barksdale walked into a check-cashing store at 56th Street and Chester Avenue to commit an armed robbery. Shopkeeper Charles Ticktin was killed in the ensuing chaos by William Barksdale, while Mr. Smith’s sole responsibility was to get the money from the cash register. He was charged with first degree murder despite not actually being the gunman, and pleaded not guilty. Despite this stark distinction of the two men, under PA law, Mr. William Smith or “Smitty” as he is called by friends, was given a life sentence, and seemingly destined to die by incarceration.

Robert J. Swartworth

Robert J. Swartworth has been incarcerated at SCI Huntington since 1979. His accomplice shot and killed a local business owner, and Robert was then sentenced to serve life without parole, despite not actually killing anyone in his life. He has served 38 years of this sentence already, and is destined to serve a life sentence without the action of the board of pardons.

Swartworth’s requests for parole have been continually denied despite his exemplary prison record, wonderful community involvement while in the prison, and support from the department of corrections who has deemed him low risk.

Dorothy Farbo

My name is Dorothy Farbo . I am 69 years old and sentenced to Life Without Parole.  I am presently housed at SCI Cabridge Springs, a minimu security prison with 26 yers in on this sentence.

The woman I am today ventures far from the trauma/ICU Nurse I once was.  None of my degrees could prepare me for the sadness, isolation and remorse I feel every day. The sadness I brought to both families. I could have walked out of the house, ran or called police or family, but in an instanct of desperation I fought back, and in that instant I took my husband’s life.  That choice will be in my heart mind and soul forever.

Ronald Callazo

Ronald Callazo was once a very dedicated Firefighter at one of the busiest firehouses in the City of Philadelphia. At that time of his life he was thrilled to be in the position to serve and protect his fellow citizens.

Today at the age of 62, Ronnie stays dedicated to serving his community from his current home – behind bars. Ronnie is currently serving his 35th year behind bars after being sentenced to life without the chance of parole, after he killed the man who allegedly raped his wife in 1983.

Aaron Phillips

In 1986 an older friend talked Aaron, then 17, into helping him rob the home of an elderly man in Pottstown, Pa. Neither were armed. The man, 86-year-old Anthony “Eddie” McEvoy, surprised Aaron and his accomplice during the robbery and was pushed to the ground as the two fled.

Mr. McEvoy died 18 days later of medical complications following surgery for a hip injury he suffered during the fall. Aaron’s co-defendant, Dennis Gibbs, took a plea deal to testify against Aaron, who was convicted of second degree murder and is serving a mandatory life sentence.

George Trudel

George Trudel is a G.E.D. recipient and college graduate, who in 2012 earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Villanova University, Magna Cum Laude, while in prison serving a second-degree murder.

Currently, he is an inmate at the State Correctional Institute – Graterford, serving his 30th year of a life without parole sentence for his involvement in a murder that he did not actually commit.