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Thursday, 25 August 2011

Gang leader gets 30 years in 2 murders

11:11 |

Camden gang leader who sanctioned the grisly killings of a Burlington County couple last year pleaded guilty to the double murder Wednesday in exchange for a 30-year prison term without parole.

Kuasheim "Presto" Powell, 25, told a Superior Court judge he shot Michael Hawkins in the head six times after other gang members had severely beaten and bound the 23-year-old inside a Berkley Street rowhome, and then ordered the killing of Hawkins' girlfriend, Muriah Huff, 18, of Cinnaminson, according to the Camden County Prosecutor's Office.

Powell also pleaded guilty Wednesday to two attempted murder charges for shooting a pair of Pennsauken brothers in an unrelated incident the day before the Feb. 22, 2010 killings on Berkley Street.

The brothers have recovered.

Facing the damning evidence of his own videotaped confession of how he shot Hawkins and the possibility of spending the remainder of his life behind bars, Powell's attorney said the decision to plead guilty made sense.

"Quite frankly it was an offer that was hard to turn down," attorney Richard Sparaco said of the 30-year deal.

"With an offer like that, it didn't pay for him to fight."

As long as Superior Court Judge Irvin Snyder accepts the plea agreement, Powell will be sentenced to two 30-year terms for the two murders and two 20-year terms for the attempted murder charges, according to the prosecutor's office. The sentences will be served concurrently, or during the same 30-year term.

Prosecutor's spokesman Jason Laughlin said the plea deal guarantees an "extraordinarily dangerous man will be away from society until his mid-50s." Laughlin added Powell has also agreed to cooperate with investigators and will provide information about others charged in the killings.

Powell is the third of 10 defendants to plead guilty in the killings, which prosecutors have labeled among the most horrific they had ever seen. In May 2010, the youngest defendant, Shatara Carter, pleaded guilty to her role in beating and choking Huff to death. Carter, who was 14 at the time of the murders, was sentenced to 20 years in prison.


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