An Oxford Circle teenager was sentenced this morning to 12 1/2 to 25 years in prison for jumping and killing an elderly man who was taking his daily post-dinner walk.
Marcquis Walker-Williams, 19, received the sentence from Common Pleas Court Judge Shelley Robins New for his Aug. 28 third-degree murder conviction in the death of 69-year-old Kwok Wai-Ho.
Walker-Williams testified in his own defense during the trial, calling his actions dumb but saying he never intended to rob or kill Ho.
This morning he repeated that assertion in a rambling 10-minute speech to the judge and Ho's family in the courtroom.
"We're Christians and our God asks us to forgive," Walker-Williams said, turning to the Ho family. "I'm asking you to forgive me."
Walker-Williams added that he could tell that the Ho family did not believe he was sorry, adding, "I am sorry for what happened. I'm nervous, I'm scared, I'm lost, because I don't know what may happen to me."
Ho's son, Thomas Ho, described his father's journey as a penniless immigrant from China who built up a lunch-truck business catering to workers at the Food Distribution Center in South Philadelphia. He said his father was not just their family's foundation but a force for good in the city's Chinese-American community.
"These senseless acts of violence have to stop," Ho told the judge. "They have afected so many families and communities. It can easily happen to you and me as soon as we step out into the street."
According to trial testimony, Walker-Williams was among a group of teens walking on Greeby Street near Loretto Avenue on July 10, 2007 when he spotted Ho. As the group passed Ho, Walker-Williams suggested to his friends that they "catch a body" - jump someone, throw a punch and run.
Walker-Williams said he ran up behind Ho, wrapped his arm around Ho's shoulders, below his neck, and pulled him back so Ho could not defend himself.
At that point, two neighbors began yelling at Walker-Williams to stop and he released his hold and ran. Ho hit the concrete, struck his head on a curb and sustained a mortal injury.
Ho died a week later after his family decided to take him off life support.