By Tony Hanson
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The sentence is life in prison for the final defendant to be convicted at trial of a firebombing that killed six people in North Philadelphia nearly ten years ago. The crime targeted the family of a witness who was cooperating with authorities against a local drug kingpin.
Like two other defendants before him, Robert Merritt was sentenced today to life.
Federal prosecutor John Gallagher says Merritt was the one who actually set the fire at about 5am, throwing a lit gasoline can, and then a second gas can, into the living room.
The targeted witness’ mother, infant son, and four other loved ones were trapped upstairs.
“The testimony was just heartbreaking,” Gallagher tells KYW Newsradio. “One of the adult family members was found kneeled, ‘as if she was in prayer,’ the firefighter put it, over the body of a 15-month-old child, using her last breath to try to save this child from impossible odds, and they all perished.”
The convicted mastermind of this horrific crime, drug kingpin Kaboni Savage, who ordered the firebombing from prison, was sentenced to 13 death sentences. He is in custody awaiting imposition of that sentence.