Aquil Bond – black, age 24

Sentenced to death in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania
By: A jury
Date of crime: 12/1/2002
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Bond and his cohort, Christopher Smith (see below), were members of the “Manny Boo” drug gang. They killed another man on a street corner by firing more than 30 shots. Another man was injured. The two shot another victim to death in broad daylight in an alley.
Prosecutor(s): Ed McCann
Defense lawyer(s): Bobby Hoof
Sources: Philadelphia Daily News 11/12/2004 (2004 WLNR 9691168), 12/30/2004 (2004 WLNR 15483385), 5/13/2005 (2005 WLNR 7548236).

Lavar Brown – black, age 25

Sentenced to death in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania
By: A jury
Date of Crime: Early in 2003
Prosecution’s case/defense response: In broad daylight on the street in front of a high school that was letting out for the day, Brown saw victim Robert Crawford, against whom he had some sort of grudge.  Brown chased Crawford in the presence of numerous witnesses and shot him to death.  Brown was caught as he ran away from the scene, although he tried to hide the gun under a car before being captured.  Brown declined a plea to a life sentence, despite the overwhelming evidence of his guilt.  At the penalty phase the prosecution presented evidence that a month before Crawford’s murder, Brown had masterminded the robbery of a pharmacy during which his cohort Christopher Kennedy shot the store manager to death as the manager was trying to open the safe.  It had been Brown’s idea to take hostages during the pharmacy robbery, and to shoot the manager in the leg to show that the robbers meant business.  (Christopher Kennedy was sentenced to death in 2004 for the murder of the employee.)  In mitigation Brown presented evidence that he had been physically abused as a child, and numerous family and friends who testified to his good qualities.
Prosecutor(s): Goren Hackley
Defense lawyer(s):  Daniel Rendine, Judith Rubino
Sources: Telephone interview with prosecutor Hackley, 11/7/05

Jerry Chambers – black, age 32

Sentenced to death in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania
By: A jury
Date of crime: 8/17/2003
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Chambers killed 20-pound, 3-year-old, Porchia Bennett by throwing her into a radiator after he found her watching him have sex with her aunt. The girl and her three older sisters were frequently beaten. Chambers, Porchia’s mother, and Porchia’s aunt beat the girls with fists and broomsticks and whipped the girls with extension cords and belts. Chambers also molested the three older sisters. The defense argued Chambers could not have formed intent to kill because his mind was fogged by drug use. Chambers rejected a plea bargain that would have resulted in a life sentence if he waived his right to appeal. There was conflicting testimony regarding whether Chambers suffered mental illness.
Prosecutor(s): Richard Sax
Defense lawyer(s): Norman Scott, Charles Mirachi III
Sources: Philadelphia Inquirer 5/26/2005 (2005 WLNR 8323154), 5/27/2005 (2005 WLNR 8391486).

John Eichinger – white, age 33

Sentenced to death in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania
By:  A jury
Date of Crime:  March 25, 2005
Prosecution’s case/Defense Response:  John Eichinger killed three women and one woman’s daughter in their apartments.  He stabbed all of his victims to death.  The prosecution attributed the deaths to Eichinger’s rage after they romantically rejected him.  During the trial, Eichinger claimed that he only confessed to the murders because the detective who came to interview him at his work had a gun.  Eichinger claimed that his company’s employee manual, it said that employees should give anyone who is brandishing a gun what they want.  Since the detective wanted a confession, that is what Eichinger gave him.  Later, during the penalty phase, Eichinger admitted to the crimes in an attempt to show remorse and win favor with the jury.  The defense also presented evidence of a personality disorder.
Sources: Philadelphia Inquirer 9/16/05 (2005 WLNR 14582338), 10/19/05 (2005 WLNR 16904862), 11/4/05 (2005 WLNR 17845015), Press of Atlantic City 10/19/05 (2005 WLNR 16959948), Bucks County Courier Times (PA) 11/4/05 (2005 WLNR 18003222), AP Alert-PA 12/12/05 (available in Westlaw USNEWS file)

James Frey, Jr. – white, age 45

Sentenced to death in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania
By: A judge (Waived jury, requested death penalty)
Date of crime: 1/5/2004
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Frey abducted his estranged wife, Debra Frey, 45, when she got off work, drove to a remote area, and shot and killed her before trying to kill himself. After shooting himself in the chest, he remained in the vehicle for 10 hours before calling 911. Frey told authorities he killed Debra Frey because he was upset that she left him. Frey had sent a suicide letter to an ex-wife saying he was going to kill his current wife and himself. Debra and James Frey married shortly after he was released from a nine-month prison term for indecent assault on a 15-year-old. Frey pleaded guilty, waived his right to a jury, and requested a death sentence.
Prosecutor(s): Anthony Rosini Defense Lawyer(s): Paige Rosini, James Best
Sources: AP Alert – Oregon 1/7/04, 1/9/04, 1/13/04, 2/18/04; AP Alert – Pennsylvania 2/9/05, 2/23/05; The Intelligencer 2/23/05.

Michael Pruitt – black, age 38

Sentenced to death in Berks County, Pennsylvania
By: A jury
Date of crime: 9/28/2002
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Pruitt invaded the home of 69-year old Greta Gougler, robbed, sexually abused and strangled her. The defense argued that Pruitt was high on crack cocaine at the time and did not intend to kill the victim.
Prosecutor(s): Unknown
Defense lawyer(s): P. David Maynard
Sources: AP Alert – Pennsylvania (5/4/05 APALERTPA 12:47:00).

Christopher Smith – black, age 21

Sentenced to death in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania
By: A jury
Date of crime: 12/1/2002
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Smith and his cohort Aquil Bond (see above) were members of the “Manny Boo” drug gang. Smith and Bond fired more than 30 shots in the street corner killing of Abdul Brooks, which injured another person. He also participated in a home invasion of rival dealers where a child watched as they tied up his mother, cornered his father and shot both in the head. Not long after, he participated in the kidnapping of another drug dealer who was shot with an assault rifle, abused and his corpse hit with bricks. Finally, his weighted body was tossed into a river.
Prosecutor(s): Ed McCann
Defense lawyer(s): Gary Server
Sources: Philadelphia Daily News 11/12/2004 (2004 WLNR 9691168), 5/13/2005 (2005 WLNR 7548236).

Shonda Walter – black, age 23

Sentenced to death in Clinton County, Pennsylvania
By: A jury
Date of crime: 3/25/2003
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Walter killed her neighbor, James Sementelli, 83, as part of a gang initiation and robbery. Walter slashed Sementelli 66 times with a 10-inch hatchet as he begged for his life. Witnesses also said that during the killing, she stopped to say the Lord’s Prayer, carved a cross in the victim’s stomach as he was dying, watched television, and ate ice cream. She then took $510 and Sementelli’s car. The defense argued (for a reason not specified in the news report) that Walter was not eligible for the death penalty under Pennsylvania law
Prosecutor(s): Ted McNight
Defense lawyer(s): Stephen Smith
Sources: Centre Daily Times (State College, PA) 4/19/05 (2005 WLNR 6063491), 4/20/05 (2005 WLNR 6122408).