Suspect makes plea days before trial in lethal stabbing

Aimee Ambrose
York Dispatch

A West Manchester Township man will spend life in prison after admitting he stabbed and killed a landlord last year.

Brian Peters Jr., 35, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder Thursday, days before he was scheduled to go to trial in his case, according to court records.

He was accused of stabbing 65-year-old Robert Runkle to death in March 2021 before fleeing to Florida.

Brian Karl Peters Jr.

West Manchester Township police said Runkle’s body was found next to a bed in an upstairs bedroom at a home where the two lived in the first block of North Gotwalt Street the morning of March 30.

A witness told police they woke to the sound of screaming about two hours before the body was found. When the witness went to check on the sound, he saw Peters holding a knife and standing over Runkle with a pillow covering his head, police alleged.

Could an aunt's activism taint jury selection for trial in 2-year-old boy's death?

DA seeks charges on behalf of pregnant homicide victim's unborn child

York City Police seek armed robbery suspect

The witness told police that Peters asked him for a one-day head start, then loaded items in Runkle’s vehicle and fled.

Peters was arrested and extradited back to York County apparently about a month later, and he was charged with first- and third-degree murder.

>> Please consider subscribing to support local journalism. 

Court records show he was scheduled to go on trial beginning Monday.

But at a Common Pleas Court hearing Thursday, Peters pleaded guilty to the first-degree murder count.

He was then sentenced to life in prison.

The term is mandatory for first-degree murder convictions under Pennsylvania state law.

— Reach Aimee Ambrose at or on Twitter at @aimee_TYD.