A Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, man who was accused of using Craigslist ads to lure victims so he could rob them was convicted of first-degree murder on Tuesday.
Thomas Coffee, 25, maintained his innocence as he was immediately sentenced to the mandatory life in prison without parole in the death of Daniel Cook, 27, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Cook was fatally shot on June 21, 2013, after he went to West Oak Lane to buy an all-terrain vehicle advertised on Craigslist.
“I understand everything that happened,” Coffee said, fighting back tears. “And I’m not saying I’m no good guy, but I didn’t have anything to do with this at all.”
Coffee took the stand during the five-day trial, where he insisted that a friend of his known only as “Stead” was actually to blame for the murder.
Cook had gone to buy the ATV together with two other people, fiancée Jessica Davis and friend Daniel Fortunato. He agreed to trade $1,000 and a PlayStation 3 for the vehicle, but the exchange never happened.
Instead, Davis and Fortunato testified, Cook walked around a corner with a tall man. Seconds later they heard gunshots and they ran to see what had happened. When they turned the corner, they found Cook dead, with his pants pockets turned out.
Coffee admitted that he was supposed to meet with Cook that night, but told the court that he got tired of waiting and left Stead, who was allegedly the owner of the ATV, before Cook ever arrived.
However, witnesses were able to identify Coffee from photo arrays. That, as well as evidence discovered in Coffee’s home, including a .40-caliber cartridge that matched the shell casings from the gun that killed Cook and a cellphone taken from the victim of another armed robbery, was enough to convince the jury that he was guilty.
Coffee has said that police planted the evidence.
The jury also found Coffee guilty of three other armed robberies, including two that involved Craigslist ads. For those convictions, he received a consecutive 50 to 100 years.
“The jury made the right call,” said Lisa Cook, the victim’s mother, according to NBC Philadelphia. “Justice was done for my son. Now he’ll never be able to hurt anyone else.”
Defense attorney Evan Hughes plans to file an appeal.
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