2 men sentenced to decades in murders of 4 in basement

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Two men have been sentenced to decades in prison in the shootings deaths of four people gunned down in the basement of a west Philadelphia home over a drug stash almost two years ago.

Jahlil Porter, 34, was sentenced Friday to spend at least 50 years in prison and Keith Garner, 35, was sentenced to at least 40 years, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Authorities said two stepbrothers, 31-year-old William Taylor and 28-year-old Akeem Mattox, found the drugs while renovating homes. But authorities say an attempt to sell the drugs in November 2018 led to their deaths and those of two sisters, 20-year-old Tiyaniah Hopkins and 17-year-old Yaleah Hall.

Testimony at the four-hour sentencing hearing indicated that the defendants had been friends with the two men, and days after the shooting Garner texted Porter a message thanking him “for bringing the beast back out of me.”

Common Pleas Court Judge Barbara McDermott expressed surprise that the victims weren’t strangers but were people with whom the defendants “hung out.”

“It is very, very rare that this court sees a case that cannot be described as anything other than an execution,” she told Porter.

Garner acknowledged Friday that the two female victims had nothing to do with the drug stash and simply happened to be in the house at the time.

“I know it seemed like everybody was supposed to die, but it was just supposed to be a robbery, and it went bad,” Garner said. “I’m sorry for what happened. I’m not going to sit here and put the blame on nobody.”

Porter, who could be seen crying at times, also apologized, telling the victims’ friends and relatives “I know I owe all of you so much more than words, and I’m sorry.”

Relatives and friends of the victims said the crime had left them traumatized and frightened.

“My children are scared to enter the basement thinking something’s going to happen to them,” the girls’ mother said in a statement read by prosecutor Danielle Burkavage.

The prosecutor had sought 80-year prison terms, but the judge said the defendants should have the opportunity to appear before a parole board decades from now.

A third man was sentenced earlier to at least 25 years in prison but is seeking reconsideration of that term.

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