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Brothers Get Life for Mass Slayings in Philadelphia

Pair avoid the death penalty by pleading guilty. They receive seven consecutive terms for killing seven people in a drug den in 2000.

March 09, 2004|From Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA — Two brothers convicted in one of the city's worst mass killings avoided the death penalty by admitting their guilt Monday and giving up the right to appeal their convictions. They were sentenced to seven consecutive life terms.

Dawud, 29, and Khalid Faruqi, 28, were convicted Friday of participating in the massacre of seven people inside a West Philadelphia drug den on Dec. 28, 2000. Prosecutors said the brothers were among four masked men who burst into the home, ordered its 10 occupants to lie on the floor, then strafed their bodies with bullets.

The trial's penalty phase was to have begun Monday. Both men faced a minimum of life in prison without parole and could have been sentenced to death.

The plea deal prompted angry outbursts from two victims' relatives, who said the brothers should have gotten death. Both relatives were removed from the courtroom.

"I'm not satisfied. They need to die!" shouted one of the women, Veronica Conyers.

Authorities initially charged a different group of suspects, who spent 18 months in jail awaiting trial before prosecutors acknowledged they were probably innocent.

In September, the city agreed to pay $1.9 million to settle claims that prosecutors ignored evidence of their innocence.

Later, the Faruqi brothers and two other men were charged. The other two defendants pleaded guilty.

The case against the brothers hinged largely on testimony from co-defendant Bruce Veney, who claimed to have acted as a lookout during the shootings. Defense lawyers called Veney a liar and claimed that at least some of the original defendants were guilty.

The brothers sat passively through the sentencing. Asked by a judge whether they wished to address the court, both declined. Asked if their written admission of guilt was genuine, both men mumbled that it was.

Their mother was unconvinced. "My sons still say to me that they are innocent," Shahidah Faruqi said, as she left the courthouse.

Victims' parents were given the chance to address the brothers in court after the sentencing. In doing so, they were addressing onetime neighbors.

Andrea Watson, whose 18-year-old son was among the dead, said she couldn't understand how they could have committed the killings.

"You knew my son. You knew both my daughters," she said. "I just hope that God has mercy on your souls."

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