Update: Mustafa Ali

A Philadelphia jury spared Mustafa Ali’s life in February 2010, finding him guilty of first-degree murder in the 2007 slayings of two Loomis armored van guards at a Northeast bank branch but not imposing death by lethal injection.

The remainder of Ali’s life is now all but certain: life in prison without chance of parole.

On Dec. 28, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied without comment Ali’s request to have the high court review his conviction.

Ali’s lawyers had asked the Supreme Court to accept the case for review after the state Superior Court in July – again, without comment – denied his appeal of the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court jury verdict.

Ali could still appeal under the state’s Post Conviction Relief Act and then through the federal courts. But the decisions of the two appeals courts to deny a petition without a hearing or comment does not give a future court much guidance.

Ali, 40, is now serving his sentence at the Forest state prison in Northwestern Pennsylvania.

The jury found Ali guilty of two counts of first-degree murder in the Oct. 4, 2007 shoot-out with Loomis guards William Widmaier, 65, of Fairless Hills, and Joseph Alullo, 54, of Levittown, as they serviced an ATM at a Wachovia Bank branch at Bustleton and Bleigh Avenues at the Roosevelt Mall.

The Loomis driver, Joseph Walczak, 72, of Frankford, was injured by flying glass when a shot shattered the van's bulletproof window.

At trial Ali – born Shawn Steele – proved to be an enigma: a former Drexel University engineering student who turned to crime after he was forced to drop out because of financial problems, a loving father of two young boys who prosecutors said “executed” the two Loomis guards during the botched holdup.

Even Ali’s defense attorneys conceded to the jury that it was “impossible to explain” the killings based on Ali’s family background.

Ali did not testify at trial and told the judge he had nothing to say before he was sentenced to the mandatory consecutive life terms.