Wreaths Across America at Lebanon Cemetery
Wreaths Across America at Lebanon Cemetery in York City, Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021.
A York County judge sent a man to prison for life in a murder case in a hearing that lasted about five minutes, basically a formality.
And the judge denied the man’s request to officiate his marriage, too.
Kashawn Flowers, 25, was sentenced to life in a state prison without parole during the hearing in a common pleas court Tuesday. The order came after a jury found Flowers guilty of first-degree murder on Oct. 21 at the end of his trial. Under Pennsylvania law, a first-degree murder conviction calls for at least a life sentence.
Flowers was accused of shooting and killing Hezekiah Walker of Lancaster County in 2014 as part of an alleged gang dispute. Investigators said Flowers was a Southside gang member who sought to retaliate against the West Side gang over the shooting death of a Southside member in 2013. Police, however, also said Walker was not involved with the West Side gang.
Flowers’ family disputed the conviction.
“My son’s not guilty,” said Tonisha Penn, Flowers’ mother, after the hearing.
No testimony was given during the sentencing hearing. The mother of Walker, the victim, submitted a written statement, and it was accepted by Judge Harry Ness and entered into the record. It wasn’t read in court nor provided to the media.
As part of the sentencing, Ness informed Flowers he has 10 days to file a motion to seek a modification of his sentence, and 30 days to file an appeal to a state Superior Court. Flowers’ attorney, Brian Perry, said he intends to appeal.
“We believe there are several legitimate appellate issues that we intend to pursue,” Perry said, after the hearing.
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Those issues included addressing the denial of several pre-trial motions, Perry said. He pointed out one motion involved the allegation that Flowers was involved with a gang. Another focused on posts Flowers made to Facebook that were used in the case, which Perry believed were prejudicial against him.
“We think without those two pieces of evidence that the outcome could certainly have been different,” the attorney said.
Penn criticized the conviction based on what she described as the word of two convicted criminals, as well as what she said was a lack of physical evidence against Flowers, such as the gun used in the shooting or video of the incident.
“How do you find somebody guilty with no evidence?” Penn said, after the hearing.
Kyle King, a spokesman for the DA’s office, responded: “We were happy to get justice for Hezekiah in this case, and believe the evidence supported the jury’s finding of guilt.”
Flowers’ family was also upset the court denied his request to let him marry his fiancée in the court.
Perry had conveyed the request in October, a week before the trial. Judge Ness didn’t turn down the request right away, saying the issue would have to be addressed after the trial. The decision to deny the wedding was apparently made prior to the sentencing hearing.
— Aimee Ambrose can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter: @aimee_TYD.