The family of Terrell Pough, the slain 18-year-old single father extolled in

People

magazine for his devotion to his daughter, got a gift yesterday from a judge.

Common Pleas Judge Shelley Robins New said, "This court suspects that the defendant may have killed [Pough] over jealousy."

The judge's finding was a relief to Pough's family members, who have suffered since his death with the taint of suspicion that Pough had been killed over a drug debt.

The killer, Antoine L. Riggins, 21, had said in a confession that he killed Pough over a $1,000 drug debt. Pough's family always insisted he was not involved in drugs.

The judge sentenced Riggins to life in prison after a first-degree murder conviction in March. He sentenced his accomplice, Saul Rosario, 19, who was convicted at the same trial of third-degree murder, to 6 1/2 to 12 years in prison.

After the sentencing, Pough's brother, Tyrique, said, "It was good the judge mentioned that it was probably over jealousy, because as his brother, we weren't bought up" to get involved with drugs.

Pough was shot to death in front of his Germantown apartment on Nov. 17, 2005.

People magazine had featured him as a single father struggling to raise his 2-year-old daughter. The hint of a drug connection tainted that noble image of him.

Tyrique said that his mother was too distraught to attend yesterday's sentencing and that the "family is still grieving."

"A lot of adjustments; Terrell was everything to [his daughter] Diamond," Tyrique continued. "It's hard on the family and especially my mother. Her son being gone is hard for her to accept."

For his part, Rosario accepted his role in the killing, and was choked up at times during yesterday's sentencing.

Rosario, shackled at the wrists and wearing a slate-gray dress shirt and black tie, said he "wanted to apologize" to Pough's family.

"I know I made a big mistake. I know what it's like to lose somebody," said Rosario, who said he lost his older brother, Victor, to gun violence in 2003.

Rosario's mother, Rosa Bones, took the witness stand to apologize directly to the Pough family and to plead with New for leniency.

"He made a mistake by accompanying [Riggins]. I'm pretty sure my son didn't mean to get involved," said Bones, who stated that Riggins lived with her and Rosario for more than a year before she had to kick him out.

"My son is a good child, who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He would never do anything wrong."

But Assistant District Attorney Carmen Lineberger said that not only did Rosario provide the gun that killed Pough, he was also there before, during and after the shooting and provided the cell phone that Riggins used to contact Pough. *