A 79-year-old Philadelphia tool repairman sentenced to life in prison for fatally shooting a man who robbed him has died in prison.

Barry Mason died March 30 at State Correctional Institution - Laurel Highlands in Somerset, where he was serving a life term for the August 2006 death of Jamil Burton, according to prison officials.

The prison said Mason died of natural causes.

The Old City man was 70 years old when he retaliated against the 19-year-old Burton after Burton swiped a gold neck chain and wedding band from Mason, then took off on a bike.

Mason chased after Burton to Louis I. Kahn Memorial Park in Center City, hitting the South Philadelphia man with his vehicle, then pulling out his .380-caliber handgun - which he was licensed to carry - and shooting Burton multiple times.

The middle-of-the-night chase happened after Burton approached Mason's Lincoln Continental as he was sitting on the 300 block of South 11th Street with the driver-side window down.

Burton leaned through the window and snatched the gold chain with an $18,000 ring hanging from it, investigators said at the time.

Mason, who had no prior criminal record, was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced in January 2008 to life without parole.

At trial, Mason's lawyer urged the jury to consider the fatal shooting an act of self-defense.

"His life is destroyed by this event he didn't start," attorney Gerald Stein said, according to a news report from the time.

But jurors ultimately agreed with the prosecution's view, convicting Mason.

"It was the Commonwealth's position that Jamil Burton was executed," Assistant District Attorney Deborah Watson-Stokes told the Inquirer after the verdict and sentencing.

Contact Emily Babay at 215-854-2153 or ebabay@philly.com. Follow @emilybabay on Twitter.
Contact the Breaking News Desk at 215-854-2443 or BreakingNewsDesk@philly.com. Follow @phillydotcom on Twitter.