Case updates: Mother sentenced, 2 men face trial

Mayor Michael Nutter says goodbye to fallen Philadelphia police officer Moses Walker Jr. during a viewing at Deliverance Evangelistic Church on August 26, 2012. (DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer)

The tragic case of Chanthy Mao – charged with stabbing her two young children to death last summer in the bedroom of their Point Breeze apartment – came to a quiet close Wednesday when Mao pleaded guilty to two counts of third-degree murder and was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison.

Mao, 28, pleaded guilty and was sentenced by Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Benjamin Lerner in an agreement reached between the District Attorney’s office and Mao’s attorney from the city Defender Association.

Mao, whose family said suffered from mental illness and had attempted suicide, was arrested Aug. 31, 2011 after she fatally stabbed daughter Savanna Mao, 12, and son Savann, 8, in the bedroom of the apartment she shared with her parents. Mao then tried to kill herself with the knife and then by taking poison.

For the last year, Mao underwent psychiatric evaluations while prosecution and defense lawyers negotiated the terms of the guilty plea.

At the time of her arrest, police said Mao told them she was despondent after emigrating from Cambodia in 2009 and going through the break-up of two marriages. Police said she told them she wanted to find a better place for herself and her children.

The two North Philadelphia men charged in the Aug. 18 killing of Philadelphia Police Officer Moses Walker Jr. have been held for trial on murder and others charges following a preliminary hearing Wednesday before Municipal Court Judge David C. Shuter.

Rafael Jones, 23, and Chancier McFarland, 19, are accused of shooting Walker, 40, during a predawn robbery in the 2000 block of Cecil B. Moore Avenue as the 19-year police veteran walked home after ending his shift as a turnkey at the 22d Police District.

Jones, a state parolee who absconded 10 days before Walker’s shooting, is the alleged gunman who shot the officer. McFarland, Jones’ alleged accomplice, is also suspected of participating in a series of strongarm robberies in North Philadelphia.

Both men now face a formal arraignment on the charges on Nov. 28 in Common Pleas Court.