Tenant admits role in Piazza killings

September 23, 2009 3:53:14 PM PDT
A tenant at an upscale Philadelphia apartment complex will plead guilty to third-degree murder for letting in suspects who allegedly killed two people in a botched drug robbery. Katoya Jones testified in the preliminary hearing of alleged mastermind Keith "Pooh" Epps and four others. They are charged in the June slayings of nightclub party planner Rian Thal and friend Timothy Gilmore.

Jones says she let her friend Epps inside so he could rob an apartment rumored to contain $500,000. But he tried the wrong unit, so Jones later let in accused gunman Donnell Murchison.

Jones says she confessed her role after recognizing Thal's photo. She plans to plead to two counts of third-degree murder.

Police found $110,000 in cash and four kilos of cocaine in Thal's apartment.

The crime was caught surveillance video at the Piazza at Schmidt's in Northern Liberties back in June.

RELATE SLIDESHOW: See surveillance pictures from the crime scene

Antonio Wright, 28, and Donnell Murchison, 33, were arrested on conspiracy murder charges.

The alleged mastermind, Keith Epps, 41, is seen on security footage entering the building with a female resident at about 4 a.m., and in a suspected mix-up, he allegedly broke down the door of Apt. 617. Thal lived in Apt. 717.

A former bartender, Thal had something of a high profile on the club scene, throwing parties that attracted professional athletes, rappers and other local celebrities. She had a few relatively minor drug arrests in her background, but friends described her as a hard worker who rarely drank.

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