Sentences in Moez's Death

Two of the four defendants tried as adults* in the 1994 murder of Graduate Student Moez Alimohamed were sentenced to life imprisonment without parole in the hearing held by Judge James Fitzgerald Wednesday, March 31.

For Antoine Saunders and Ollie Taylor, the judge implemented a plea bargain that eliminated the possibility of the death penalty, which included, in addition to the life sentence for murder, 20-40 years to be served concurrently for robbery, violation of the Uniform Firearms Act, possession of an instrument of crime, and criminal conspiracy.

At the hearing, according to Maureen Rush of the Penn Police's Victim Support unit, the attorney for Saunders sought to withdraw his earlier plea bargain on the ground that his client was not the "shooter," but the motion was denied. Taylor's testimony, after Saunders had plea-bargained, was that Saunders tried to pull the trigger, but that the rifle jammed, and that he (Taylor) took the gun, unjammed it and pulled the trigger.

The two others sentenced last week were Anthony Archer and Gregory Pennington, both of whom went to trial and were found "not guilty" of homicide but guilty of robbery, theft, and criminal conspiracy. Archer was sentenced to 15 to 30 years, and Pennington to 10 to 30 years, with fines added in each case.

The hearing included impact statements from Moez's brother, Farouk Alimohamed; from his graduate group chairman, Dr. Wolfgang Ziller; from Dr. Richard Rosin, whose late daughter had been engaged to Moez; from Associate VPUL Barbara Cassel; from Ms. Rush; and from Roger King of the District Attorney's Office.

"We believe the continued involvement of the Penn community played a powerful role in the convictions and sentences," Ms. Rush said at the end of the hearing.

Dr. Ziller, who has followed the trial day by day and posted reports to the Penn Web at every turn of events, is posting an account of the hearing (http:// He cites Judge Fitzgerald's comment that "this was the most tragic case that this court has had to deal with" and his further statement that the sentence will reflect the seriousness of the crime, but that he also needs to balance compassion with fairness.

In her letter to the hearing, Dr. Judith Rodin called Moez "one of our most gifted students, unselfish with his time and generous with his knowledge," whose loss "has left a deep, hollow space in the lives of those who knew him and loved him....

"The random, senseless death of Moez Alimohamed was a personal tragedy for our university community and for our entire city. As the leader of the largest private employer in the City of Philadelphia, I would only be pretending to ensure the safety of our students, our faculty, and our staff if justice is not served on the criminals that prey upon our community.

"Today, over your robes of jurisprudence, you will wear the mantle of educator. Give the criminals in your courtroom the lesson they deserve. Teach them, through the maximum sentence allowable by law, that they cannot get away with murder. Teach them that the punishment will fit the crime."

* A fifth youth charged in the homicide, Khaalis Edmondson, was tried as a juvenile and convicted of second-degree murder and other charges; he is eligible for release in three years on reaching 21.


March 19, 1996
Volume 42 Number 24

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