Sunday, November 06, 2011
"Joking and smiling at the families of their victims, cousins Malik and Anthony Collins were each sentenced to two consecutive life prison terms today for their convictions in a 2006 drug-related double murder in Brewerytown.
"Later, Ma. It's all cool," said Malik Collins, 23, and broke into loud laughter as a sheriff's deputy led him from the courtroom of Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina.
Minutes later, Anthony Collins, 27, met the same fate although not before a sister of victim Johnny Harmon excoriated him in a victim-impact statement to the judge.
"You don't have blood," said Twanda Harmon, said in a loud voice to Collins. "You have ice running in your veins. You're a punk, a punk, and I hope you die."
Collins, handcuffed on the table, sat next to defense attorney Samuel C. Stretton and grinned at Harmon through most of her angry words.
Neither cousin said anything before Sarmina sentenced them to the life sentences with no chance of parole.
The Collinses were each convicted of two counts of first-degree murder last Wednesday by a jury of six men and six women in the March 18, 2006 killings of rival drug dealer Johnny Harmon, 39, and Harmon's girlfriend, Latoya Bostick, 18.
The death penalty had been withdrawn after one of the Collinses was shown to be mentally retarded and conducting separate trial would have been too problematic.
For Malik Collins, the convictions were the third and fourth consecutive life terms he will serve; he was convicted of two 2005 murders in 2008, according to court records.
Because of the mandatory life terms, neither Stretton nor defense attorney Michael E. Wallace, representing Malik Collins, presented testimony in their behalfs.
Both asked that the life terms be made concurrent to each other but Sarmina made them consecutive.
The judge also ordered Malik Collins to pay a total of $5,099 in restitution for the funeral costs of the two victims, and Anthony Collins $2,673. The money will come from whatever the cousins earn from prison jobs.
At trial, Assistant District Attorney Brian Zarallo presented testimony that the Collinses worked as enforcers for a violent Brewerytown drug gang known as "Thompson University," after a neighborhood street.
Harmon and some associates began selling drugs nearby in the 1200 block of Dover Street and the Thompson gang decided to remove the competition, Zarallo said.
About 11 p.m. on March 18, 2006, Zarallo said, Harmon and Bostick were in his silver pickup truck parked on Dover near Thompson when the Collinses approached and fired more than a dozen shots at the pair, killing them.
Zarallo said Bostick was an "innocent bystander and her only crime was that she liked Johnny Harmon." [Story]
There are a lot of Malik and Anthony Collins type dudes living in Philly. Consecutive life sentences mean nothing to them. And they wouldn't give a second thought to taking a life. Yours. Mine. A family member. A drug rival. It's just another life.
They laugh at a life sentence behind bars because their own life is worth nothing to them in the first place. Living for the moment, flashing bling, and chasing the next moment of instant gratification is all they live for. Death before thirty would have been the norm. Living past thirty is to be celebrated, even if it is living while locked away in a state correctional institution with maximum supervision.
Freedom is only valuable if they can be free on their sick demented terms. The rest of us be damned.
Sadly, this story is not so unusual. I have seen young bucks laughing in courtrooms after being sentenced before. I used to think that it was not a real laugh, that it was more like nervous laughter to mask fear, and to keep up a facade of toughness. I don't think so anymore. The ones who laugh out of nervousness are few and far between. The ones who laugh because it is truly what they are feeling emotionally are numerous.
I watched a guy get sentence to five years once, and he turned around and winked at his mom and girlfriend and told them that he would be home soon, that he wanted them to "hold it down" while he was away. They tearfully told him that they would, and that they would be up to see him every chance they got. His girl was pregnant and his mother couldn't have been more than forty years old.
He wasn't laughing, but if he was, I think I could see why.