Life in prison in firebombing that killed six

Posted: February 23, 2014

PHILADELPHIA Saying the crimes that Kidada Savage committed were barbaric and horrendous, a federal judge sentenced her to life in prison for the 2004 firebombing of an informant's North Philadelphia home that killed six people, including four children.

Before U.S. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick issued the mandatory sentence, Savage, sister of drug lord Kaboni Savage, insisted she was not guilty.

"Your honor, I was railroaded," Savage, 31, told the court. "I admit this was a tragedy. . . . I know I did nothing wrong."

Savage, along with her brother, was convicted in May of six counts of murder in the aid of racketeering in the predawn firebombing on Oct. 9, 2004, of Eugene "Twin" Coleman's home on Sixth Street near Allegheny Avenue. The attack is considered one of the most brutal cases of witness retaliation in the city's history.

Kaboni Savage ordered the firebombing after Coleman, a friend and close associate, was arrested on drug charges and agreed to become a government witness.

Killed in the fire were: Marcella Coleman, 54; her niece Tameka Nash, 34; Nash's daughter, Khadijah, 10; Eugene Coleman's 15-month-old son, Damir Jenkins; Marcella Coleman's grandson, Tajh Porchea, 12; and a family friend, Sean Rodriguez, 15.

During the trial, Lamont Lewis, an enforcer for Kaboni Savage, told jurors that Savage, in federal custody awaiting trial on drug charges, ordered the attack and that Kidada Savage showed him the house to be firebombed. Coleman's mother and twin brother were supposed to be there.

Lewis pleaded guilty to the firebombing and awaits sentencing. Robert Merritt and Steven Northington were also convicted in the case. Northington was sentenced to life. Merritt, acquitted of murder, awaits sentencing for racketeering.

Before Friday's sentencing, Kidada Savage's attorney, Teresa Whalen, asked the judge to postpone the hearing, saying her client had lost confidence in her ability to defend her and wanted a new lawyer to handle sentencing.

Savage, wearing a dark-green prison uniform and with her hair in a ponytail, told the judge: "I'm not being represented correctly. . . . Your honor, this is still my life."

Surrick declined the request, adding that Whalen had done a good job defending her.

Savage's sister, Conchetta, asked the judge for leniency, saying Kidada has a child, attended college, and held a job at an insurance company.

Surrick told Kidada Savage she had expressed no remorse.

"This sentence will protect the people of Philadelphia, because you are going to be incarcerated for the rest of your life," Surrick said.

"The nature of this crime is barbaric," he said. "This crime was horrendous."

The judge also sentenced Savage to an additional 10 years in prison for using fire to commit a felony.

After the hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Troyer, who prosecuted the case, said, "This is one of the most horrific crimes in the history of Philadelphia. . . . The sentence was well-deserved. It's a sentence she earned."


vclark@phillynews.com

215-854-5717

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