Woman Who Aided, Then Testified Against, Piazza-at-Schmidt’s Killers Being Released
By Tony Hanson
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A woman who played a small but crucial role in a 2009 double murder at the Piazza at Schmidt’s in Northern Liberties was today sentenced to time served, plus two years’ probation.
It’s a crime that Judge Benjamin Lerner says shook the fabric of the entire city. The victims were killed during an attempted drug robbery in the upscale apartment complex.
Katoya Jones, 29, who has served two years and 11 months in prison, got a huge break at sentencing because she pleaded guilty and cooperated with authorities (see related story).
Defense attorney Robert Mozenter notes his client’s cooperation was valuable to prosecutors.
“The judge put it eloquently: if it weren’t for her, some of these gangsters would not be in jail today,” Mozenter tells KYW Newsradio.
Jones, a neighbor of murder victim Rian Thal, admitted that she agreed to let the robbers into the secure building.
But the planned robbery turned into murder.
Jones, an Army veteran, was crying in court today as she said she was sorry, didn’t know what she was getting into, and now lives in anguish and pain. She told the court she doesn’t feel worthy of anything — even of being free.
Jones’ attorney notes his client cooperated despite potential danger to her and her family:
“She did so because she wanted to do it, not because she was pressured to do it. She wanted to do it from the very beginning.”
The three gunmen and another man who planned the crime are already serving life sentences. Another conspirator in the murder is serving 20-40 years in prison (see related story).