Gov. Rendell signed an execution warrant yesterday for a North Philadelphia man who in 2003 executed the manager of a Rite Aid store during a robbery.

Christopher Kennedy, 27, who had resided on the 1000 block of West Thompson Street, was sentenced on Aug. 1, 2004, to death after conviction of first-degree murder, robbery and other offenses. The state Supreme Court affirmed the sentence in November, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Kennedy's appeal in May.

According to testimony, on Jan. 19, 2003, Kennedy and several accomplices held up the Rite Aid at 12th Street and Girard Avenue. During the robbery, Kennedy shot the manager, Michael Richardson, 35, of the Crescentville section of the city, in a leg and dragged him into the office where the safes were located. As Richardson prayed and begged for his life, Kennedy held a .44-caliber Magnum revolver close to his head and shot him.

Kennedy's execution by lethal injection is set for Oct. 22. He is held at the State Correctional Institution at Greene. His accomplices, Jamaar Richardson, 22; James Richardson, 24; and Lavar Brown, 26, were convicted of second-degree murder, robbery, and related offenses. They received mandatory life sentences. The Richardson brothers are unrelated to Michael Richardson. - Inquirer staff