3 found guilty in Piazza at Schmidts murders

PHILADELPHIA - December 1, 2011

43-year-old Will Hook, (aka Keith Epps), 44-year-old Edward Daniels and 30-year-old Antonio Wright were sentenced on Thursday afternoon.

Hook, Daniels and Wright were also sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole for 2009 murder of 34-year-old Rian Thal and 40-year-old Timothy Gilmore.

The three were accused of killing Thal and Gilmore in an attempted robbery at Thal's apartment in the Piazza at Schmidt's complex.

The jury saw security video the defense could not get around. Rian Thal and Timothy Gilmore were shot to death in, what prosecutors say, was a botched drug robbery.

The robbers panicked, shot and ran before they could get into Thal's apartment to grab the $100,000 in cash and 8 and a half pounds of cocaine that police later found in her apartment.

There have been earlier convictions in this case, and the prosecutors are happy with the verdict.

"The case was proven by a variety of pieces of evidence, including the video showing the actual murder, extensive phone records showing contact between each of the co-conspirators, with Keith Epps as the center of that," explained ADA Jennifer Selber.

"These individuals did not kill them to protect the community. They killed them to steal drugs, take money and to sell poison on the streets. That's what they did, not a public service to the community. They are dangerous," said ADA Carlos Vega.

After the verdict, Will Hook, the alleged mastermind of the robbery, turned to Thal's family and once again proclaimed his innocence, and said he's sorry about what happened.

Hook's brother claims that all three men convicted on Thursday did not get a fair trial.

"Definitely, they all got railroaded," said Keith Hook. "It wasn't a fair trial."

"He's obviously very sorry for what happened to Rian. He and Rian were friends," said Hook's attorney Christopher Warren. "He obviously didn't want anything bad to happen to her at all."

All three men were automatically sentenced to life in prison without parole. Their lawyers say they will appeal the verdicts.

Before the trial began, two men pleaded guilty to their roles in the murders.

Donnell Murchison pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison. Langdon Scott pleaded guilty to robbery, burglary and conspiracy charges.

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