CAMDEN The cases of 10 suspects tied to a brutal gang-related slaying went through four judges, 18 attorneys, and hundreds of hearings.
On Friday, more than four years after the hearings began, the last suspect was convicted in the Berkley Street torture killings of Muriah Huff, 18, and her boyfriend, Michael "Doc-Money" Hawkins, 23.
"This is the end," said Earl Huff, Muriah Huff's uncle, who attended nearly every hearing. "Finally."
Kuasheim "Presto" Powell, 25, displayed little emotion as he was sentenced to 40 years in prison in Superior Court, with Earl Huff two rows away.
Powell was the leader of the Bloods street gang involved in the slayings of Huff and Hawkins on Feb. 22, 2010, in a Camden rowhouse. The Bloods at the time thought Hawkins - a member of the rival Crips gang - had stolen a bottle of liquor from them.
Gang member Clive Hinds, according to testimony from Bloods members in previous hearings, beat Hawkins with a baseball bat before Powell shot Hawkins in the head. Hinds and Powell then decided to kill Huff, Hawkins' girlfriend, who prosecutors said was an innocent bystander.
Huff was strangled with a jump rope by 14-year-old Shatara "Feisty" Carter, so Huff would not talk, prosecutors said.
On Friday, after the final sentencing, Earl Huff said he was ready to move on, and that part of that process meant forgiving the suspects.
"You can't go through life holding grudges," Huff, 56, said. "That just tears you apart on the inside."
His mood Friday contrasted with that in 2011, when he told The Inquirer, "We have no faith in the system," after prosecutors made a deal with Powell that would spare him a possible life sentence.
That deal eventually fell through after Powell refused to testify against Hinds. Prosecutors said they believe Powell's testimony would have convinced a jury that Hinds was not "under duress," and acting out of fear of being killed by other gang members, during the slayings. Hinds' murder conviction was automatically reduced to manslaughter because of that argument. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison in January 2013.
"It's been a long road," Camden County Assistant Prosecutor Christine Shah said after the sentencing Friday. "The prosecution on this case has gone on a very long time."
And it may not be over. Hinds has appealed his conviction in the slayings, though Shah said that's typical in many cases.
"This is not the end," she said.
"But it is the end of most of the case."