- Associated Press - Monday, May 23, 2016

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A jury in Pennsylvania convicted a man Monday in the slayings of two neighbors - sisters of an Iowa state lawmaker - and now must decide whether his punishment should be death or to spend the rest of his life in prison.

Allegheny County jurors found Allen Wade, 45, guilty on all charges brought against him, including criminal homicide, robbery and burglary.

Prosecutors say Wade fatally shot Susan Wolfe, 44, and Sarah Wolfe, 38, after they returned from work on Feb. 6, 2014. Then he stole a bank card belonging to one of the women and withdrew $600, prosecutors said.

During closing arguments Wednesday, Deputy District Attorney Bill Petulla used crime scene photos, DNA-stained clothes and bags containing pieces of evidence to form a trail across the courtroom floor, from the jury box to the defense table. “All roads lead right to Allen Wade,” he told jurors.

Prosecutors showed surveillance video of a man in a hooded sweatshirt stopping at the automated teller machine where the money was withdrawn. They said the man in the video was Wade. They also said Wade’s DNA was found under the fingernail of Susan Wolfe and the DNA of both Wade and Sarah Wolfe was on a sock found along the route they contend Wade took to the ATM.

Wade’s attorney argued that police rushed to judgment to charge their client because of the prominence of the victims’ sister, Democratic Iowa state Rep. Mary Wolfe. Public defender Lisa Middleman suggested police didn’t investigate thoroughly because the victims were white women from a good family rather than drug dealers or street criminals.

“Some of what was done and some of what wasn’t done is because these were very nice people,” Middleman said. “That’s not an objective investigation.”

Jurors deliberated for seven hours Friday and asked to examine some evidence in the case. Deliberations on Thursday were delayed after a juror was dismissed for unspecified reasons, and the judge admonished other jurors to consider only the evidence they heard in court.

During the penalty phase of the trial beginning Tuesday, the panel must decide whether Wade should be executed or serve life in prison without possibility parole.

Wade’s relatives said they hope jurors will choose to sentence him to life in prison, and they expressed sympathy for the family of the victims.

“We want them to know our family are Christians and extend all the love in our heart to them,” said Sharlene Hayes, Wade’s cousin.

Relatives of the defendant said the case has been difficult for them to understand despite the evidence.

“We’ve known him since the day he was born. He’s always been a gentle, kind-hearted person,” Hayes said. “To see him turn to something this ugly, this monster, is something that we can’t soak in at all.”

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This story has been corrected to show prosecutors say DNA found on a sock was from Wade and Sarah Wolfe, not Susan Wolfe.

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