This morning's scheduled sentencing of Katoya Jones - who pleaded guilty to participating in the 2009 Piazza at Schmidts double murder - was postponed to Jan. 19 to give lawyers more time to prepare.
Jones, 27, was to have been sentenced by Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Benjamin Lerner on her guilty plea to two counts of third-degree murder in the June 27, 2009 slayings of event-planner Rian Thal and friend Timothy Gilmore at the new Piazza at Schmidts complex in Northern Liberties.
Jones, a pharmaceutical manufacturing worker, admitted letting the armed robbers into the security-coded Navona building where she lived five floors below Thal's apartment.
Jones testified she believed she would share a cut of what longtime friend Will "Pooh" Hook told her was a stash of a half-million in cash and multiple kilograms of cocaine in Thal's apartment.
Prosecutors acknowledged that Thal, 34, and Gilmore, 40, were also active in the city's drug trade and her apartment was headquarters for distributing a load of Mexican cocaine that Gilmore, an Ohio-based long-distance trucker, had just hauled in from a Texas supplier.
Jones became a key prosecution witness in the trial of Hook, 43, and Piazza gunmen Edward Daniels, 44, and Antonio Wright, 30.
Hook, also known as Keith Epps, Daniels and Wright were found guilty by the jury last Thursday of second-degree murder and related counts. Each was sentenced to two consecutive life prison terms by Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey P. Minehart.
In Pennsylvania, each count of third-degree murder carries a prison sentence of 20 to 40 years, but Jones' sentence will largely depend on the recommendation Lerner gets from Assistant District Attorneys Carlos Vega and Jennifer Selber.
Three others among the eight people charged in the killings pleaded guilty on the first day of jury selection on Nov. 7. Langdon Scott, 28, who prosecutors say backed out and left the Piazza before the shootings; and Robert Keith, 30, who joined Hook in burglarizing the wrong Navona apartment in the predawn hours of June 27, 2009, will be sentenced Jan. 4.
The third gunman, Donnell Murchison, 35, pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder to escape the possibility of a death sentence. Minehart sentenced him that same day to two consecutive life prison terms without chance of parole.
An eighth person, arrested a year after the shootings, is to be tried later.