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Cash gets life in prison for Bucks killing

Handcuffed and surrounded by armed deputies, Omar Sharif Cash stepped from a Bucks County courtroom Wednesday afternoon. He was headed to prison for the rest of his life.

Handcuffed and surrounded by armed deputies, Omar Sharif Cash stepped from a Bucks County courtroom Wednesday afternoon.

He was headed to prison for the rest of his life.

He was also smiling.

"Come down to Philly," he told a group of reporters, "and we'll do it all over again."

For one of the few times in his adult life, Cash, 28, had just been held accountable in a court of law, despite a long history of serious arrests.

And he knew that yet another murder charge awaited him in Philadelphia.

Cash was sentenced to life Wednesday for the execution-style murder of an immigrant carpenter on a roadside embankment in Bensalem.

And Judge C. Theodore Fritsch - seeing in Cash "a callousness and hardness of heart that is difficult to comprehend" - then tacked on 65 to 130 years more for the May 2008 kidnapping and robbery of Edgar Rosas-Gutierrez and the repeated sexual brutalization of the dead man's girlfriend.

Cash faces an additional murder charge in Philadelphia, where, prosecutors say, he gunned down a 19-year-old man in April 2008 at a Frankford Avenue car wash.

City police had been seeking him the night that Cash carjacked Rosas-Gutierrez, 32, and the woman at gunpoint in an empty parking lot behind a club in Philadelphia's Crescentville section.

He raped the woman in the backseat as Rosas-Gutierrez drove north. He ordered the driver from the car along a ramp in Bensalem and fired a fatal bullet through his head.

He raped the woman again on the hood of the car. He drove her to a motel in Lawrenceville, N.J., where she finally escaped from him after being raped yet again.

The woman, 43, who arrived as an illegal immigrant from Brazil in 2007, looked on in court Wednesday with sad satisfaction.

"I can't say that I am happy because [Cash] finished my life," she said afterward through an interpreter. "But I ask that everyone who is a victim to not be afraid to ask police for help, and to please believe in justice, because justice exists."

For years, there had been questions about how evenly justice had been applied to Cash.

After a string of juvenile offenses - robbery, drugs, theft - Cash had been arrested repeatedly as an adult on charges that included attempted murder, rape, robbery, and drug trafficking. He beat all but a couple of lesser offenses and spent less than two years behind bars.

As detailed in an Inquirer series published last year, prosecution witnesses died or failed to show, and bureaucratic bungling also contributed to charges' being dropped or dismissed. The series depicted Cash as the face of dysfunction within Philadelphia's criminal justice system. Victims and prosecutors suggested his violence had escalated as he kept going free.

A six-man, six-woman Bucks County jury convicted Cash last week of first-degree murder. After more than four hours of added deliberation Tuesday and Wednesday, the panel deadlocked over whether he deserved the death penalty.

The impasse was due to "12 reasonable people" holding different opinions, jury foreman Joe Monaghan told reporters.

By default, Cash received life.

The severity of his other crimes prompted Fritsch to tack on the equivalent of another lifetime to the sentence.

"I do not wish what I went through on anyone, not even an animal," said the rape victim, whose name The Inquirer is withholding because of the nature of the crime.

But she said she was not disappointed that Cash had not been sentenced to death.

"No, justice was done right," she said.

Deputy District Attorney Marc Furber, calling Cash "a cold-blooded killer . . . the worst I've ever seen," said he doubted that life behind bars would change him.

"I don't expect that he will ever show an ounce of remorse," Furber said.

Defense attorneys presented evidence that Cash had been abandoned to the streets by his parents as a young child, had been raised by drug dealers, and had suffered brain damage that left him unable to control his desires and impulses. A neuropsychology expert testified that the extent of Cash's affliction was a "one in a billion" phenomenon.

"In the courtroom I think he showed lots of emotion," defense attorney Charles Jonas said. "When his mother testified, he was crying. When the victim testified, he was crying."

The surviving victim, that is.

In a statement read in court Wednesday, the woman said she had left Brazil to escape an abusive husband. In the States she had met Rosas-Gutierrez, "who loved and respected me" and planned to return to Brazil with her.

"I am grateful to God to be alive so I can testify. If the defendant had killed me, I wouldn't be able to ask the court for justice," the woman's statement said.

Cash, she said, "is not a human being to me. He is heartless."