Two men have been sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole in the slayings of three people during the robbery of a Philadelphia corner grocery store five years ago.
Jurors who earlier convicted Ibrahim Muhammed and Nalik Scott, both 35, of first-degree murder, robbery and conspiracy, deadlocked on whether they should be executed or spend life in prison, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Common Pleas Judge Glenn Bronson, in accordance with the law, then sentenced the pair Friday to three consecutive life terms, calling the slayings "an unspeakable, incomprehensible crime."
Breaking news and the stories that matter to your neighborhood.
"I've been doing this a long time, and it's hard to imagine a more terrible crime," he said. "These three people's lives were taken in an outrageous manner, a manner I am completely incapable of understanding."
Scott and Muhammed were charged in the September 2011 shootings at Lorena's Grocery that killed 50-year-old bodega owner Porfiro Nunez, his 49-year-old wife, Carmen, and his 42-year-old sister, Lina Sanchez.
Homicide detectives said nothing was taken from the store. Investigators said the break in the case came by linking Muhammed and Scott to two other bodega robberies that generated tips after surveillance video was released.
Defense attorneys argued that investigators under pressure to close the case arrested the wrong men, and they challenged identifications of their clients by the couple's daughters, who were working the cash register at the time. Prosecutors said the defense didn't present enough evidence on other men and characterized the Nunez sisters' identifications as unshakable.
Scott told the family at a sentencing hearing Thursday that he felt no remorse because he didn't commit the crime and he hoped the real killers would be found.
Muhammed's defense attorney, Anthony Voci, said his client had a chaotic, traumatic upbringing and a history of schizophrenia. The defense earlier argued that his confession was false because he was off his medication.
After the hearing, Jessica Nunez, now 24, wiped away tears and said she and other relatives had prayed that the jury would not sentence Muhammed and Scott to death.
"We don't believe in it," she said. "It was never in our minds."
She said the family hadn't made plans for the Christmas holiday, believing that they would still be in court, but "We just plan to stay together, like always."