by Steve Tawa, KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Philadelphia jury has reached a quick verdict in the “Piazza at Schmidt’s” double murder case.
The Philadelphia district attorney’s office got a clean sweep at the Criminal Justice Center, convicting all three men of second-degree murder (see related stories).
That means lead defendant Keith Epps, gunman Antonio Wright, and co-defendant Edward Daniels will all spend the rest of their lives in prison with no chance of parole.
Prosecutors told jurors in this two-week-long trial that security video that they had been watching of the newly opened Piazza Navona apartment building in June 2009 depicted all of the defendants in three stages: a bungled burglary, a dropped drug deal, and a robbery gone bad that turned into a double murder.
Defense lawyers in either their opening statements or their closing arguments had various theories. One said lead defendant Keith Epps was set up by others who were not on trial. Another told jurors her client, Edward Daniels, was not the person caught on camera. She told jurors they had the wrong man.
After two days of deliberations totaling less than seven hours over these past two days, including rewatching the surveillance video and relooking at records of cell phone calls that the defendants had made to each other in the ninety minutes before the murders, the jury came back and gave their guilty verdicts on all counts.