Jury returns first-degree murder verdict in 35 minutes

Omar Sharif Cash is led to his trial at the Bucks County Courthouse by sheriff's deputies. (Photo by Larry King)
Omar Sharif Cash is led to his trial at the Bucks County Courthouse by sheriff's deputies. (Photo by Larry King)
Posted: November 09, 2013

Omar Sharif Cash spent nearly two hours Wednesday trying to explain to a Philadelphia jury why he had to kill Muliek Ronald Brown.

It took jurors all of 35 minutes Thursday to decide they didn't believe him, finding Cash guilty of first-degree murder in the 2008 slaying outside a Frankford car wash.

On Tuesday, the same jury will begin hearing evidence to decide whether Cash should be sentenced to death or life in prison without chance of parole.

Cash, 31, had become almost legendary in law enforcement for escaping conviction. A 2009 Inquirer series detailed how a rape case was dismissed when the victim failed to appear at trial, an attempted-murder case failed when the victim hanged himself, and a robbery case sank when the alleged victim fled.

Cash's streak ran out in 2010, when a Bucks County jury convicted him of first-degree murder in the May 2008 kidnapping of a couple. Cash shot the man, dumped his body along a Bensalem highway, and then drove the victim's 41-year-old fiancee to a Lawrenceville, N.J., motel, where he repeatedly raped her. At the time, Cash was on the lam in the Brown killing.

The Bucks jury spared Cash's life, sentencing him to life without parole.

Cash testified in his defense in that trial too. He denied killing the man and said the woman was a prostitute he met at the motel through a pimp.

The Philadelphia jurors did not know about the Bucks case, but they will hear about it Tuesday.

Assistant District Attorney Peter Lim said details of the Bucks case would be offered as an "aggravating factor" justifying a death sentence.

Defense attorneys Lee Mandell and Earl G. Kauffman declined to comment.

In the Bucks County case, Cash's lawyers argued that he deserved mercy because of a childhood marked by abandonment, abuse, and brain damage.

Cash exhibited no obvious emotion at Thursday's verdict. Cash admitted that he shot Brown in the back of the head April 21, 2008, outside Winning Edge Car Wash on Frankford Avenue while the victim polished the rims of his Mercury Marquis.

Cash said he shot Brown because it was a case of "kill or be killed." Cash said Brown and other members of a local gang were hunting him.

Assistant District Attorney Carlos Vega called Cash's version of events a "fabrication."

After the verdict, Lim said investigators still don't know why Cash shot Brown. Lim said police found no evidence that anyone shot at Cash.

Lim said Brown had no juvenile or adult criminal history, was unarmed, worked full time, and was the father of a young son.


jslobodzian@phillynews.com

215-854-2985 @joeslobo

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