The second of two men convicted in the execution-style murders of four people in April 2005 was sentenced Friday to life in prison without parole.
Justin Thompson, 25, declined to speak before his sentence was imposed and stood impassively as Erie County Judge Timothy J. Drury delivered the harshest sentence possible for one of the bloodiest crimes in the city's history.
"You're a cold character," Drury told Thompson.
About a dozen relatives of the victims applauded and shouted "Thank you!" after the judge announced his sentence.
A jury in November convicted Thompson and Domenick Sutton, 23, of three counts of first-degree murder in addition to second-degree murder and a weapons charge. Sutton received the same sentence earlier this week.
Thompson shot three of the four victims, prosecutors said.
Sutton and Thompson were convicted in the shooting deaths of Robert "Little Man" Brown, 40; his niece, Tonisha Brown, 26; Stacie Guest, 39; and Gregory Conwell, 42, at a Koons Avenue home.
The judge described how Thompson fired "nine or 10 shots at that poor man," referring to Robert Brown.
The last shot was fired at close range into Brown's head, between his eyes.
During the trial, the jury learned that U.S. Secret Service agents last year were conducting a counterfeiting investigation involving Thompson, Tonisha Brown and Conwell.
Drury said Thompson killed the victims because he was worried about them talking to authorities about counterfeiting.
"That was your reason," Drury told Thompson. "You were concerned about snitching."
Thompson, wearing an untucked white dress shirt, a tie and black pants, did not react during the sentencing. His defense lawyer, Joseph J. Terranova, said Thompson plans to appeal.
Terranova sought to delay Friday's sentencing so Thompson could find another lawyer to introduce "newly discovered evidence."
The new information turned out to be a claim by Sutton, the co-defendant, that Thompson was not present when the crimes were committed.
Terranova said his client also wanted to pursue complaints about ineffective legal counsel and juror misconduct.
Terranova said Thompson was being sentenced six weeks earlier than previously planned to accommodate Drury, who begins serving as a State
Supreme Court justice next week.
The sentencing was moved up "because this court stubbornly wants to sentence my client," Terranova said.
"I'm not stubbornly doing anything," Drury said. "I've had this case assigned to me for 18 months. We've gone through many stops and starts. I know a good deal about this case. I'm very, very familiar with the case. I can do better justice for both sides."
Drury rejected Terranova's request for a delay.
"You want to sentence my client," Terranova said. "I think it's more than honoring justice."
Prosecutor Frank A. Sedita III argued against delaying the sentencing.
"The defendant wants another judge because he knows you're going to throw the book at him," Sedita said, noting Drury presided at the trial.
Sedita called the request for an adjournment a tactic to delay justice to the victim's families. "An affidavit from a convicted murderer sentenced to life without parole? Are you kidding me?" Sedita asked. "We're supposed to ignore the eyewitness testimony?"
Family members were grateful Drury proceeded with the sentencing.
"My daughter and my brother did not have a chance for a postponement," Robin-Lynette Brown said, addressing the court before sentencing. "They didn't get time to file motions. They were just shot. This has gone on long enough."
When she addressed the court, Dionna Brown, the daughter of victim Robert Brown, angrily questioned if Thompson was a maniac.
"What is wrong with you?" she asked. "I hope you have the worst time of your life [in prison]. I just hate you. You're despicable."