A social services official at a private Philadelphia children's aid organization was found guilty of first-degree murder Monday in what the prosecutor called the execution of his boss a day after she confronted him about $42,000 in missing funds.
Randolph Sanders, 39, of Northeast Philadelphia, was found guilty by a Common Pleas Court jury in the Jan. 13, 2015, shooting of Kim Jones, 56, as she waited for a bus from her home in the Yorktown neighborhood in North Philadelphia to her job as a program director for Turning Points for Children in Center City.
Sanders began rubbing his face with his hands as the foreman of the jury of seven men and five women announced the verdict after two hours of deliberating.
The first-degree murder verdict carried a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole. Judge Glenn B. Bronson immediately sentenced Sanders and added consecutive sentences of 8½ to 17 years in prison for three gun charges of which Sanders was found guilty.
Sanders thanked Bronson for a fair trial and said, "I'm sorry for this entire situation. I understand what's shown on the video, but I still stand by my innocence.
"I did not do this. I didn't steal any money, and I didn't do this to Kim," Sanders added. "I would never do this to Kim."
Bronson said the verdict was based on some of "the most overwhelming evidence in a case I have ever seen in 35 years as a judge and a lawyer."
That evidence included Sanders' confession to the slaying in an interview that was transcribed by homicide detectives and then recorded on video.
In the video, shown to the jury last week, Sanders called Jones' slaying "a work-related matter, and it just got out of hand."
Sanders told detectives that the day before, Jones had accused him of mismanaging money that was missing and that he feared he would be fired from his $68,000-a-year job and his reputation ruined. He said he meant to scare Jones, not kill her.
"I just wish it didn't happen, I don't know what was going on in my mind," Sanders said in the video.
Sanders testified that he confessed only after 30 hours of questioning and because he was still in shock from his early-morning arrest by a police special tactics team.
Sanders, who has a master's degree in education, had never been arrested before, according to defense attorney Michael Coard. Coard said Sanders would appeal.
Assistant District Attorney Mark Levenberg cited Sanders' education and his admission in court that he understood his constitutional right to not incriminate himself as evidence that Sanders' confession should be believed.
According to trial testimony, Jones had worked about seven years as program director for Turning Points' Families and Schools Together (FAST) Program, which works to engage with low-income parents and their children at 62 city schools. Sanders was Jones' assistant director.
Jones, the mother of two adult children, was waiting for the Route 23 bus at 12th and Jefferson Streets about 9:15 a.m. after walking a half-block from her Yorktown home.
As Jones stood, leaning against a short brick retaining wall and listening to music over headphones, a hooded man dressed in black climbed the inclined lawn behind her and shot her once in the back of the head.
Police were able to piece together the gunman's path afterward from security camera videos.
That compilation showed the gunman walking from the scene of the slaying, boarding the subway at Cecil B. Moore station, and riding to Hunting Park. The gunman then walked a short distance along Hunting Park Avenue to Carlyle Street, where he got into a 2007 GMC Yukon and drove away.
The Yukon was later linked to Sanders and was parked outside his home in the 9000 block of Ryerson Road on Jan. 31, 2015, when police arrested him.
The investigation later showed that Sanders processed payment vouchers meant as stipends for Turning Points school volunteers. The vouchers, totaling about $42,000, were for 29 people; none had personnel files or school clearances at Turning Points, and most were also Sanders' friends, fraternity brothers, or acquaintances.