The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Friday upheld the December 2016 convictions and death sentences imposed on a former Southwest Philadelphia man for the beating, stabbing, and torturing of two brothers who were then dumped in the Schuylkill.

In a majority opinion, the justices affirmed Tam Minh Le’s sentences in the August 2014 deaths of Vu “Kevin” Huynh, 31, and his brother Viet Huynh, 28, who were killed because they owed Le and his associates a $100,000 drug debt.

The Philadelphia District Attorney Office’s varying stances on Le’s death sentences were a focus of an Inquirer article last week reporting that the office under District Attorney Larry Krasner has consistently agreed to or leaned toward possible life-in-prison sentences in appeals by Philadelphia’s current death-row inmates.

The justices’ opinion did not weigh in on the district attorney’s changing position in Le’s case.

Justice Debra Todd, who wrote the majority opinion, said in a footnote that although prosecutors in August 2018 had filed a brief asking that Le’s death sentences be affirmed, the District Attorney’s Office stated during oral arguments Sept. 25 that “it was not prepared to argue for the affirmance of [Le’s] death sentence.”

In a “clarifying position” letter the next day, Todd noted that the District Attorney’s Office “contends, contrary to its brief, that it does not now seek any specific relief, but simply states … ‘it does not argue for affirmance of the capital sentence in this case, at this time.’”

Paul George, assistant supervisor in the district attorney’s Law Division, had appeared before the court for the oral argument and written the clarifying letter. He and Krasner, both former criminal defense attorneys, have expressed opposition to the death penalty in other cases.

Cameron Kline, a spokesperson for the District Attorney’s Office, said by email Friday that the office had no comment on the court’s opinion.

In his clarifying letter, George wrote that he could not argue for Le, now 47, to be executed until the state Supreme Court resolved the appeals of two other Philadelphia death-row inmates. Jermont Cox’s appeal is still pending. The high court in October denied the appeal of the other inmate, Lavar Brown.

Cox’s petition asks the court to end capital punishment, citing last summer’s Joint State Government Commission report, and argues that the death penalty violates the state constitution’s ban on cruel punishment. The District Attorney’s Office has until June 17 to reply.

Only Justice David Wecht did not agree to affirming Le’s death sentences.

Wecht, in a dissenting opinion, wrote that Le deserved a new penalty-phase hearing based on the trial judge’s refusal to let him question prospective jurors about his prior manslaughter conviction in the 1993 shooting death of a man in Rochester, N.Y., contending the refusal impinged on Le’s right to an impartial jury.

Le’s appellate attorney, James Berardinelli, said Friday that he respects the court’s decision but disagreed with it. “We agree with what Justice Wecht mentioned in his dissent,” he said, adding that he expects Le will continue to appeal.

Tram Huynh, 41, sister of the victims, said in a text message Friday: “I’m glad [the] Supreme Court still continues with the death sentence.”