- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 27, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A man has been sentenced to decades in prison after pleading guilty Wednesday to killing a north Philadelphia store clerk who authorities said was targeted because she witnessed a prior homicide.

Shawn Poindexter, 20, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and conspiracy in a deal with prosecutors as a jury was about to hear opening statements in his trial.

Poindexter, who was 17 at the time of the slaying, was sentenced under the plea agreement to 25 years to life in prison, The Philadelphia Daily News (https://bit.ly/1GEtTwr ) reported. Judge Barbara McDermott called the slaying “one of the most outrageous types of crimes.”

Prosecutors said he killed Rayna Aguirre-Alonso, 33, inside the Caribe Mini Market in January 2012 because she had witnessed a November 2011 slaying outside the market.

Jorge Aldea, 25, earlier pleaded guilty in that murder of 22-year-old Luis Chevere and in Aguirre-Alonso’s slaying and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Poindexter pleaded guilty after the judge told him while the newly selected jury was absent that the evidence against him was strong and if convicted he could have faced a minimum of 35 years - with prosecutors seeking a life term. After looking back at relatives in the gallery who nodded yes to the proposal, Poindexter said he would take the deal and acknowledged having killed Aguirre-Alonso.

The victim’s sister, Alma Aguirre, tearfully told the judge through an interpreter that her sister had come from Mexico City, and her death has deeply affected the whole family.

“It’s not just the impact on me,” she said. “It’s the pain of a mother and two brothers. My sister came to this country 10 years ago and to have to return her to a mother in a box,” she said, weeping.

Poindexter declined to make a statement. His aunt expressed her condolences to the victim’s family but called Poindexter “a good person” and “a great role model” to her two younger sons despite his actions.

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Information from: The Philadelphia Daily News, https://www.philly.com

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