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Deliberations on death penalty in 2009 café murder slated

December 20, 2020 GMT

EASTON, Pa. (AP) — A northeastern Pennsylvania jury is expected to begin deliberations Monday on whether a man convicted in what prosecutors called a revenge slaying more than a decade ago should be sentenced to death or to life in prison without possibility of parole.

The Northampton County panel deliberated for about four hours last week before convicting 40-year-old Jacob Holmes Jr. of first-degree murder and conspiracy.

Prosecutors said the Easton resident shot 24-year-old Miguel Aponte at least five times in the back after forcing his way into the back door of the Easton Café in 2009. District Attorney Terence Houck said Holmes was seeking revenge for the 2006 murder of a friend. Aponte had been released from prison on charges related to the slaying.

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Defense attorney Brian Monahan had argued during trial that the prosecution case was based on unreliable witnesses and cited a lack of fingerprint or DNA evidence linking Holmes to the crime. The defendant had told police he was at home on the day of the slaying.

The (Pottstown) Mercury reports that District Attorney Terence Houck called the defendant a “killer” and said the slaying was more of a statement than a mere killing. Holmes could have killed Aponte “a hundred different ways without an audience,” he said.

He said it was a miracle that the defendant wasn’t being prosecuted for more than one murder given the tight confines of the establishment, where seven rounds ricocheted around the room that night.

Monahan said his client had substance abuse issues and “debilitating mental issues” stemming from the death of his mother and others and was “reared in a household with dysfunction and chaos.”