Omar Cash, found guilty by a Bucks County jury of first-degree murder and rape, grew up in a North Philadelphia apartment where dead bodies in the stairwells were the norm.
His first Christmas tree was a castaway pulled from a dumpster by his older sister.
By age 10, he was frequently truant from school, living on his own, and working as a runner for drug dealers in the tough Richard Allen Homes. Yet, according to trial testimony, he also scored 1350 on his SATs.
Friday, the jury charged with deciding whether Cash, 28, should live or die heard from family and experts about Cash's traumatic childhood and a diagnosed personality disorder.
Cash was found guilty on Thursday of first-degree murder in the May 2008 execution-style slaying of Edgar Rosas-Gutierrez, 32, an immigrant carpenter. He was also found guilty of raping the man's girlfriend.
Cash kidnapped the couple as they exited a nightclub in the city's Crescentville section, and forced them to drive to Bucks County, where he killed Rosas-Gutierrez on a roadside in Bensalem. Cash, who raped the woman in the backseat before the murder and afterward laughed and sang along to radio music, drove to a Lawrenceville, N.J., motel and raped the woman again. She eventually escaped and contacted police.
In testimony Friday, a sobbing Rene Gutierrez, the victim's uncle, stood with one hand covering his face and the other on the shoulder of his daughter, Leslie Campos, as she read a letter he wrote to the court.
"The pain of his death will remain in my heart forever," the letter read.
Edgar G. Perez Rosas, Jr., the victim's 7-year-old son, recalled in a letter read in court how his father would help him with school speeches when he did well and received good grades.
"I hope my dad is with the good man, God," he said in his letter.
Michael Goodwin, representing Cash in the death-penalty portion of the trial, said his client "is the very human consequence of parents who abandoned him in an urban jungle at a very young age and left him with a complete absence of moral compass."Cash's sister, Ieshaa Adams, a human resources specialist for the Department of Navy, testified to their tough childhood. Her father, a crack addict, didn't believe the boy was his based on his lighter skin tone. He once beat Cash to "a bloody pulp" when his parents were fighting, she said.
Cash's mother, Darlene Cash, 51, said she was an alcoholic and drug addict who never bothered to look for her son when he stayed away for months at a time.
The trial will resume Tuesday, with both sides expected to make closing statements.
Cash is also awaiting trial in Philadelphia on charges that he murdered a 19-year-old man at a Frankford Avenue car wash in April 2008.