India Spellman insisted she didn't do it.
So Spellman, who was 17 when she got arrested for killing a World War II veteran during an August 2010 robbery try outside his Cedarbrook home, twice rejected a prosecution offer that would have landed her in jail for 20 to 40 years.
This morning, Spellman learned that her gamble was a goof, when a judge sentenced her to 30 years to life for gunning down George "Bud" Greaves, 87, on Aug.18, 2010, in the driveway of his home on Pickering Street near Phil Ellena. First- and second-degree murder convictions carry a mandatory life-without-parole prison sentence in Pennsylvania, but the U.S. Supreme Court last year declared that penalty cruel and unconstitutional for minors.
Spellman's co-defendant, Von Combs, also was convicted of second-degree murder and related offenses but was sentenced to just two years in prison, after his case was returned to Juvenile Court and he pleaded guilty. (He was 14 at the time of the murder.) Combs and Spellman accused each other of firing the fatal shots.
Greaves, a Navy Seabee who served in Guam during the war, was sprucing up his yard when Spellman and Combs attacked. After Spellman pulled out a pistol, Greaves grabbed it; the gun fired during the ensuing tussle, hitting Greaves in the chest, according to court testimony.
At the time of the murder, Spellman, now 20, was an 11th grader at Martin Luther King High School who had no police record and worked after school at Dunkin' Donuts. Prosecutors say Greaves' death was the culmination of Spellman's and Combs' one-day street-robbery spree; Spellman also was convicted of robbing Shirley Phillips, 51, two hours before attacking Greaves.