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Altoona man facing life sentence for second-degree murder of corrections officer Rhonda Russell

Mugshot of Christopher Aikens.
Blair County Prison
Mugshot of Christopher Aikens.

An Altoona man has been sentenced to life in prison for second-degree murder and murder of a law enforcement officer.

Christopher Aikens pleaded guilty last month to all charges related to the death of corrections officer Rhonda Russell.

The Blair County District Attorney’s office said Aikens, an inmate at the time, was trying to escape and got a hold of Russell’s gun on Nov. 17, 2021. That’s when another officer responded and shot his own gun. The DA’s office said Aikens pulled Russell into the line of fire. She died from those injuries, despite quick medical aid.

Aikens was also sentenced to serve 60 to 120 years in prison for additional charges, including disarming a law enforcement officer, robbery, kidnapping and escape.

In a statement, First Assistant District Attorney Nichole Smith said, “While it will not return Officer Russell to the arms of her family, it will hopefully allow them the small comfort of at least knowing that her murderer will never walk free again.”

Sydney Roach is a reporter and host for WPSU with a passion for radio and community stories.