Co-mastermind of drug robbery-turned-murder gets 20 to 40 years

Posted: July 19, 2013

HOURS AFTER the June 2009 drug robbery he helped to plan turned into a double murder at a luxury Northern Liberties apartment house, Caesar Holloway was complaining that he wouldn't be able to buy the sports car of his dreams, according to court testimony.

Four years later, Holloway, 37, stood in court yesterday and repeatedly said how "humbly" sorry he was and how he felt like "an idiot."

Holloway told Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Minehart and the mother of one of his victims that he never intended for anyone to get murdered on that June 27 afternoon at the Piazza at Schmidts complex.

"I sincerely and humbly apologize to the family from the bottom of my heart," he said during a brief sentencing hearing.

Gunned down in a hallway during the robbery-turned-murder were Rian Thal, 34, a party planner who moonlighted as a drug dealer, and her drug associate, Timothy Gilmore, 40, an Ohio long-distance trucker and former Detroit firefighter.

Police found $110,000 in cash and four "bricks" of cocaine in her apartment - the loot the panicked gunmen apparently sought but did not get.

Though Holloway was in the parking lot when three of his accomplices went into the building and opened fire on the victims, he was guilty of two counts of third-degree murder and related counts for his part in the scheme, Minehart told him.

The judge sentenced Holloway to 20 to 40 years in state prison and told him that he probably would have gotten the same life sentence that four of his accomplices got had he been tried with them in 2011. (One other accomplice got six to 12 years in prison, and two are awaiting sentencing.)

Holloway was arrested after the others and eventually pleaded guilty this May.

The defendant, who is facing a federal trial for a gun charge, said he had no thoughts of going to trial for the murders, "because I knew I had to be punished."

Assistant District Attorney Carlos Vega said Holloway, along with Keith "Will Hook" Epps, 44, were the masterminds of the plan to rob Thal after they got a tip that she had received a large shipment of cocaine. Vega had asked Minehart to sentence Holloway to 25 to 50 years.

Defense attorney Donald Chisholm II, who asked for a minimum sentence of 17 or 18 years, said Holloway was accepting of his punishment and hopeful of being rehabilitated and having a "second chance in society."

On Twitter: @MensahDean

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