By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) —  Closing arguments wrapped up today in the “Piazza at Schmidt’s” double murder trial (see related stories).

Jurors sitting through the two-week-long case heard, from prosecutors and defense attorneys, very different views on what happened inside that Northern Liberties apartment complex in 2009.  Now, they’ll have to decide whom to believe.

In his close, defense lawyer Chris Warren suggested a wider conspiracy theory, pinning the crime on others.  Those others, he said, might include Donnell Murchison, the admitted triggerman who pleaded guilty the day the trial started; murder victim Rian Thal’s drug-dealing partner, Leon Woodard, known as “Za”; and/or Edward Emerson, the enforcer who accompanied the second victim, Timothy Gilmore, with bricks of cocaine, up from Texas.

Warren suggested that Thal was executed because the others suspected she was an informant.

Prosecutor Carlos Vega told jurors that testimony from four others who pleaded guilty, plus surveillance video, cell phone records, and cell tower analysis link the three defendants.  He pointed to each — Keith Epps, Antonio Wright, and Edward Daniels — then turned to jurors and said, “It’s obvious what they did.  Convict them.”

After the judge instructs jurors on points of law on Wednesday, they’ll begin deliberations.

If found guilty, all the defendants face mandatory life prison terms without chance of parole.

Reported by Steve Tawa, KYW Newsradio 1060

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