Long prison sentence in killing at Piazza

Posted: January 18, 2014

A Northeast Philadelphia man was sentenced Thursday to 231/2 to 47 years in prison for killing a man after an argument over a woman at an outdoor café at the Piazza at Schmidts complex in Northern Liberties.

Common Pleas Court Judge Steven R. Geroff rejected a plea for mercy in sentencing Steven Miller in the 2012 shooting of Maurice Kimble, 24.

Miller, also 24, a sometime food services worker who aspired to being a rapper, was convicted of third-degree murder and firearms charges in October. Although he did not demonstrate any remorse at the verdict, Miller, who had no prior criminal record, made a low-key apology before sentencing.

Assistant District Attorney Richard Sax told Geroff that Miller had already received mercy from the jury that found him guilty of third-degree murder instead of the first-degree verdict prosecutors sought.

Sax said Miller did not even have the respect to address the victim's family in his presentencing statement.

According to trial testimony, the killing happened late on a warm Sunday on the patio outside the PYT restaurant at the Piazza.

Kimble and three friends and Miller and two women were seated at tables about eight feet apart outside the restaurant.

Both groups had been drinking earlier and at PYT without incident. But after midnight one of Miller's friends went to a unisex restroom. Kimble followed and, according to testimony, asked her for her phone number. She rebuffed him and left, but Kimble followed. The woman complained to Miller, and he turned his attention to Kimble.

Following a confrontation, witnesses said, Miller pulled out a gun and shot Kimble in the chest and groin, killing him.

Miller's lawyer, Samuel C. Stretton, argued that Miller thought Kimble had reached for a gun - none was found - and that Miller was still suffering the aftereffects of being shot and almost killed in 2009 in a confrontation with a group of people he did not know.

"He's lived in terror ever since," Stretton said.

After the killing, Miller fled Philadelphia and was arrested in late June 2012 in Houston.


jslobodzian@phillynews.com

215-854-2985 @joeslobo

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