PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Testimony continued today in the trial of three people accused in what prosecutors call a botched, drug-related robbery that led to a double murder at the trendy “Piazza at Schmidt’s” apartment complex in Northern Liberties (see related stories).
Victim Rian Thal’s neighbor, 27-year-old Katoya Jones, who has been locked up since shortly after the June 2009 double murder, has testified against the man she knew as “Poo” — lead defendant Keith Epps.
Jones said that Poo had a lead on a lot of money from drug sales stashed inside the Piazza Navona apartment building and they needed to get in and get it before it was moved.
She testified she thought she would get $50,000-60,000 from the stash if she let Poo’s co-conspirators into the secure apartment building.
After Thal and Timothy Gilmore were ambushed in the hallway by three gunmen, Jones remembers Epps saying the violence wasn’t supposed to happen.
“It’s crazy, those were rookies and it shouldn’t have happened,” she quoted him as saying.
Jones tried to lie to police but investigators obtained entrance and hallway security video showing her letting in the alleged gunmen. When she was brought to police headquarters for a second time, she thought she would continue the lie until police showed her crime scene photos — including her neighbor shot in the head outside the victim’s apartment.
Jones previously pleaded guilty to two counts of third-degree murder. Her cooperation will be noted when she is sentenced.
Reported by Steve Tawa, KYW Newsradio 1060