Man pleads guilty to killing Penn State student

Posted: April 11, 2014

JEFFREY LITTLE, the North Philadelphia man arrested in May 2011 for fatally shooting a Penn State Abington senior during a botched robbery, pleaded guilty to murder yesterday afternoon.

Little, 22, his neck and hands covered with tattoos, signed the plea documents on the day that jury selection was set to begin for his first-degree murder trial in Common Pleas Court.

If convicted by a jury, Little, a high-school dropout, would have received a mandatory life-without-parole state prison sentence.

Under the negotiated guilty plea, however, Judge Linda Carpenter sentenced Little to 30 to 60 years in prison for third-degree murder and robbery. Three weapon charges were dropped.

Had the case gone to trial, Assistant District Attorney Michael Barry said, four people would have testified that they saw Little shoot Mohan Varughese, 23, in the right cheek and chest while trying to steal his Kawasaki motorcycle on Camac Street near Susquehanna Avenue in North Philly.

One of those witnesses would have testified that he drove around looking for Little after he fled the crime scene without the motorcycle, Barry said.

When Barry told Carpenter that Little had two prior drug-dealing convictions as an adult, the defendant's mother, Gail Rose, shrieked in court, saying one conviction was as a juvenile and calling the prosecutor a "lying bitch." It did not appear that the judge or Barry heard her.

The afternoon of the slaying, Varughese, of Bustleton, had gone to North Philadelphia to visit his girlfriend, a student at Temple University. As the couple sat on steps of a rowhouse on Camac Street talking with friends, Little approached, pulled a .22-caliber handgun and demanded the motorcycle keys, Barry said.

When Varughese refused, the prosecutor said, Little fired three shots, two of which hit Varughese.

He died within the hour at Temple University Hospital - less than a week before he was to graduate with a psychology degree.

Varughese's relatives may return to court today to give victim-impact statements, Barry said.

Little could receive an additional five-to-10-year prison sentence on Monday when he is scheduled to have a violation-of-probation hearing, said his court-appointed attorney, Joseph Schultz. He was on probation for a drug-dealing charge at the time of Varughese's killing.

On Twitter: @MensahDean

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