A Bucks County Court jury convicted a man Friday of second-degree murder for shooting a Levittown resident in the back during a botched drug deal in 2006.
Ckaron Handy, 27, of Philadelphia, will receive a life sentence for killing Kevin Battista, a 30-year-old father of two and a union worker who was apparently seeking cocaine the night he was killed.
As the verdict was announced after four hours of deliberation Friday night, Handy, wearing a navy suit and a white button-down shirt, sat without displaying emotion. Several members of Battista's family cried in the courtroom.
Handy avoided a first-degree murder conviction, but was convicted on two counts of robbery in addition to the murder charge, for which he will receive a mandatory life sentence.
Deputy District Attorney Christopher Rees, who prosecuted the case with colleague Antonetta Stancu, said afterward, "We think justice was served."
Defense attorney Michael Goodwin said he was disappointed and planned to appeal.
Handy, who dealt drugs in the Fleetwing section of Bristol Township, was accused of firing a shot from a revolver into Battista's back around 2:15 a.m. on Dec 7, 2006, after Battista drove to the neighborhood looking for a late-night high.
It took authorities six years to piece together enough evidence for an arrest, which District Attorney David Heckler attributed at the time to testimony from unwilling or imperfect witnesses.
A number of witnesses who testified during this week's four-day trial either did not see Handy pull the trigger or changed their testimony during the years-long investigation. That was something court-appointed Goodwin and his fellow court-appointed lawyer, Charles Jonas, sought to highlight.
The defense team also emphasized that many witnesses had their own criminal convictions and received reduced sentences for cooperating in this case.
One man who previously testified three times to witnessing Handy fire the gun was charged last week with lying about his account, since he was apparently in jail the night of the shooting. He did not testify during Handy's trial.
In the end, the jury of nine men and three women believed the case against Handy. He will be sentenced at a hearing within 60 days.
Heckler said he "could not be prouder of my office," calling the case "extraordinarily tough."