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By Tony Hanson

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — One of the defendants in a carjacking-assault case last month that led to the death of a mother and three of her children this morning made a surprise acknowledgement of his role in a Philadelphia courtroom.

A hearing scheduled for this morning for Cornelius Crawford and Jonathan Rosa did not take place, but during a brief court appearance Rosa blurted out an apology to the family of the victims.

Rosa has waived his right to a preliminary hearing and, according to his attorney, has been cooperating with authorities from the very beginning of their investigation and wants to continue to cooperate.

The attorney says Rosa, 19, is hoping for a plea deal in the case, something less than the automatic life sentence that would be imposed for a conviction of second-degree murder.

Before being quickly led from the courtroom this morning, Rosa — as his attorney seemed to try to keep him from speaking — leaned into a microphone and said, “I want to ask for forgiveness from the family,” plus something indiscernable.

There was no family in court.  They had been told there would be no hearing.

Three children died shortly after the crash and their mother, Keisha Williams, who was critically injured, died last week.

Defense attorney Christopher Warren told KYW Newsradio after this morning’s proceeding, “The first thing he asked me when I came in to represent him was, how was the mother doing?  And he didn’t find out until today that she died on Friday.  He had been on suicide watch.  He is in protective custody.  He is devastated.”

Keisha Williams’ funeral is scheduled for tomorrow.

Crawford, the co-defendant, will face a preliminary hearing in October.


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