Seven Are Sentenced In Sean Daily Murder

Posted: December 13, 1991

Five young men yesterday were sentenced to life in prison and two others received seven to 20 years for torturing Sean Daily with baseball bats and then fatally shooting him in the back.

The seven were convicted in August 1990 of murdering Daily in his Port Richmond neighborhood in May 1989 to avenge an earlier insult. Daily was not involved in the original incident.

Before sentencing, each defendant stood separately and asked Common Pleas Court Judge David N. Savitt for leniency, their families for understanding, and the Dailys for forgiveness.

The two defendants who received the shorter sentences, Edwin Desamour and Bezaliel Hernandez, had been convicted of third-degree murder. They appeared for sentencing wearing street clothes.

The others, dressed in prison-issued white short-sleeve shirts and blue pants, had been convicted of first-degree murder. None showed any emotion.

Sean's father, Keith Daily, a Philadelphia police officer, said after the sentencing that "the appropriate punishment would be to put every one of them on a corner, let them get beat by bats, let them scream and try to crawl away, and then have someone shoot them."

For those convicted of first-degree murder - James Sanders, Alexis Rodriguez, Rafael Droz, Juan Gonzalez and James Martinez - yesterday's proceedings were strictly a formality. After their jury voted against the death penalty, state law required a minimum of life in prison.

Defense attorneys representing Desamour and Hernandez said the two deserved no more time in prison than three others who, after pleading guilty to third- degree murder for their parts in the incident, testified for the prosecution and received six years.

Savitt also gave all defendants five-to-10-year terms for conspiracy. Sanders and Martinez received an additional term of 2 1/2 to five years for possessing guns, or instruments of crime.

At trial, Samuel C. Stretton, who represented James Sanders, contended that the six other defendants framed his client because he was the only non- Hispanic youth.

Because of that, attorneys for the others had argued unsuccessfully that their clients' defense conflicted with Sanders' and that they could get a fair trial only if the cases were separated.

Sanders had been accused of firing the shot that severed a major artery in Daily's abdomen.

Before the sentencing, Savitt and two other judges gave defense lawyers a minor victory by throwing out five convictions for possessing an instrument of crime. Attorneys for Desamour, Hernandez, Gonzalez, Rodriguez and Droz said the convictions should be overturned because a baseball bat is not commonly held to be such an instrument and the prosecution did not enter evidence to show that it was.

Prosecutor Michael McGovern said he would appeal that part of the judges' decision.

Common Pleas Court Judges Savitt, Michael R. Stiles and John J. Poserina Jr. replaced Lynne M. Abraham, who presided over the trial and has since become the district attorney. The judges will hand down a written opinion in the case in 60 days.

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