PHILADELPHIA (AP) — At an emotion-filled hearing, a man convicted of killing an off-duty Philadelphia police officer during an attempted robbery at a bus stop expressed no remorse as he was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison.
Rafael Jones, 25, of Philadelphia, was sentenced for the August 2012 shooting of Officer Moses J. Walker. Jones had avoided a potential death sentence by agreeing to a nonjury trial.
The 40-year-old Walker, dressed in street clothes, was on his way home from an overnight shift when Jones and co-defendant Chancier McFarland confronted him. They thought he looked like a "sweet lick," or easy target — perhaps a student from nearby Temple University — as he listened to music on his headphones, McFarland has said.
Jones shot Walker twice with a .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun after the officer attempted to grab his weapon in self-defense, prosecutors said.
Walker's mother, Wayne Lipscomb, wearing a T-shirt memorializing her oldest son, told the judge that Walker was always there for his seven siblings.
"Moses was the backbone of my family," Lipscomb said. "My heart is broken. It's never going to be healed."
Officer Ryan Saunders, who had been mentored by Walker when he joined the police force 10 years ago, choked back tears as he described being the first officer to arrive on the scene.
Saunders said he felt like he let Walker down.
"We (as police) come across people who are sometimes shot or stabbed," said Saunders, 31. "When you come across someone that you know or that you care about and there's nothing you can do to save them, it affects you. A lot."
Jones' long criminal record dates back to a burglary charge when he was 12, prosecutors said. They said he should have been in jail the day Walker was killed because he had missed a court hearing days earlier for a parole violation.
Defense lawyer Michael Coard, a frequent critic of the Philadelphia Police Department, had only praise for Walker and called his death "a tragedy."
However, he said his client was not the shooter and vowed to appeal.
McFarland pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and testified against Jones in exchange for a 20- to 40-year prison term. He awaits sentencing.
This story has been corrected to show the first name of the co-defendant is Chancier, not Chauncier.