A Bucks County jury heard on Friday about Omar Sharif Cash's childhood - how he grew up poor, played hooky, was beaten by his father, worked as a runner for drug dealers, and suffered from what a defense expert called a personality disorder.
All of that, his lawyer contends, is why jurors should give Cash life, not death, for committing rape and murder.
Cash, 28, was convicted Thursday in the 2008 execution-style slaying of Edgar Rosas-Gutierrez, 32, an immigrant carpenter, and of raping the man's girlfriend.
Cash kidnapped the couple in the city's Crescentville section and made them drive to Bensalem, where he killed Rosas-Gutierrez after raping the woman. Cash then sang to music on the radio, drove to a motel in Lawrenceville, N.J., and raped the woman again, she testified. She eventually escaped and contacted police.
In prosecution testimony Friday, a sobbing Rene Gutierrez, uncle of the murder victim, stood with one hand over his face and the other on the shoulder of his daughter Leslie Campos as she read a letter he wrote to the court.
"The pain of his death will remain in my heart forever," Gutierrez wrote.
Edgar G. Perez Rosas Jr., the victim's 7-year-old son, recalled how his father helped him with schoolwork. "I hope my dad is with the good man, God," the boy wrote to the court.
Michael Goodwin, the lawyer representing Cash in the death-penalty portion of the trial, called him "the very human consequence of parents who abandoned him in an urban jungle at a very young age and left him with a complete absence of moral compass."
Cash's sister Ieshaa Adams, a Navy human-resources specialist, testified of their difficult childhood, saying her father was a crack addict who once beat Cash to "a bloody pulp."
The penalty phase of Cash's case resumes Tuesday.
He also faces a murder trial in Philadelphia in the 2008 killing of a 19-year-old man at a Frankford car wash.