Terral Brown said her daughter, LaTonya, was scared the day of the shooting. "She told me this woman kept following her around the building. She said, 'Mom, I don't feel safe.' "
Dalton said being shot and watching his friends die had left him fearful and traumatized. "I'm not the same person. I lost a lot of myself. I'm not the father I should be," he said.
Hiller sat quietly in a black Islamic dress and head scarf, appearing stoic. When called upon by the judge, she put on a pair of glasses and read from a statement in a low, steady voice. She apologized and said she knew that she had needed help. "I'm not excusing what I did," she said. "I really thought they were poisoning me."
She said that she had called doctors, therapists and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and that before the shooting, "my life was taken from me by my coworkers." Going to work every day, she said, was "a living hell, subjected to pranks by my coworkers."
Hiller and her family painted a picture of a woman tormented by mental illness that was exacerbated by her coworkers. "Instead of leaving her alone or helping her, they made it worse," one of Hiller's relatives whispered before the hearing.
Hiller waived her right to a jury trial so prosecutors would not seek the death penalty. First-degree murder carries a mandatory life sentence. But Lerner said that, to the extent possible, he intended to send a message.
"There's no practical difference between imposing concurring or consecutive punishment," he said. "It's a need I feel to make a symbolic statement of the preciousness of these separate lives that have been lost."
Dalton and Brown's daughters Trachelle, 24, and Tyleesha, 19, said Hiller deserved the death penalty.
"There's never going to be closure," Trachelle Brown said. She recalled on the night of the killing explaining to their 6-year-old brother and 10-year-old sister that their mother was not coming home. She says she worries that their memories will fade over time.
"Hiller can call her kids from jail," Trachelle said. "All I can do is listen to my mom's voice on the answering machine over and over."
Contact Jessica Parks at 215-854-4851 or firstname.lastname@example.org.