Kaboni Savage jury finishes 1st week of deliberations

Posted: May 12, 2013

Jurors at the federal murder and racketeering trial of accused drug kingpin Kaboni Savage closed their first week of deliberations without a verdict.

U.S. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick discharged the nine women and three men early Friday afternoon after five days of talks without any signals of their progress.

The group had only a few evidence requests over the week, including one for a transcript of testimony by Lamont Lewis, the admitted killer who said Savage directed him in October 2004 to firebomb the North Philadelphia home of a former gang associate cooperating with the FBI.

Two adults and four children died in the fire, which officials have called one of the worst cases of witness retaliation in city history.

Savage, 38, is charged with those deaths and six more, five of whom were rival drug dealers. If he is convicted, prosecutors will ask jurors for the death penalty.

Savage's lawyers contend the charges are overblown and unproven, built on questionable testimony by admitted criminals and informants out to save themselves. Under his plea deal, Lewis will be spared the death penalty but faces 40 years in prison.

Also on trial are Savage's sister, Kidada, who is accused of helping to plot the fire; Robert Merritt Jr., who allegedly assisted Lewis in the firebombing; and Steven Northington, an alleged enforcer in Savage's crew accused in another homicide.

Merritt and Northington also could face death-penalty hearings if convicted. Kidada Savage faces up to life in prison.


Contact John P. Martin at 215-925-2649, at jmartin@phillynews.com or @JPMartinInky on Twitter.

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