PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Back in 2009, the Piazza at Schmidts apartment complex had just opened in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia, but the headlines that followed were about a double murder there.

Today marks the beginning of the trial for three men accused in the drug-related shootings (see related story).

When prosecutors outline their case, they will show jurors security video of the hallway ambush. After party planner Rian Thal and truck driver Timothy Gilmore were gunned down outside Thal’s 7th floor apartment, police found a large amount of cocaine and $100,000 inside her apartment.

Last week, three defendants pleaded guilty, including one of the alleged triggermen, who was sentenced to two life prison terms. Donnell Murchison’s plea enabled him to escape a potential death penalty (see related story). In his prior statement to detectives, Murchison said defendant Will Hook had a lead on what was called a ‘sweet beat’ — an easy robbery.

Prosecutors also decided last week to remove the death penalty against Antonio Wright, who is accused of gunning down Gilmore. Another defendant, Edward Daniels, is accused of shooting at the two victims.

Reported by Steve Tawa, KYW Newsradio 1060

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