WEST CHESTER — A 20-year-old Norristown man accused of brutally murdering a friend for $350 in North Coventry will face the death penalty as his case heads to trial, according to the Chester County District Attorney’s Office.
Shakeem Carter is charged with first degree murder, torture, abuse of a corpse, arson, and a multitude of related charges in connection with the Feb. 12 slaying of 17-year-old Kevin Allen. Carter allegedly stabbed Allen more than 20 times, slit his throat, and set his body on fire inside a home belonging to the victim’s father at the Hanover Garden Apartments.
“The decision to pursue the death penalty is reserved for the most serious crimes and is only reached after careful deliberations,” said District Attorney Tom Hogan. “After consultation with the police and the victim’s family, this decision is based upon the circumstances surrounding the murder of this young man.”
Carter was formally arraigned on charges Thursday, and prosecutors announced that they will seek the death penalty as the case heads to trial in the Chester County Court of Common Pleas. The district attorney’s office listed three aggravating factors that led to the decision to seek the death penalty. Those included that the offense was committed by means of torture, during the perpetration of a felony, and that during the murder the defendant caused grave risk to others by setting the fire inside the apartment building.
Allen’s body was discovered on after a neighbor dialed 911 to report a “terrible struggle.” Officers from the North Coventry Police Department were the first to enter the apartment, but they had to retreat when they discovered that the apartment was on fire. Firefighters were able to extinguish the flames, but when they returned they told police there was a body inside.
Officials described a scene of horror inside the two-bedroom apartment. Blood covered the walls of the stairwell that led upstairs, where Allen’s burned and mutilated body was found lying face down.
The subsequent investigation determined that Carter and Allen had ridden together to the North Coventry apartment on a SEPTA bus from Norristown. Allen was headed to his father’s apartment to pick up $350 that his left for him to buy clothes, prosecutors said.
Three knives, covered in blood, were found inside the apartment. One of the weapons, a butcher’s knife, was bent by the force of the blows that killed Allen. Investigators also found two empty bottles of cooking oil that was used to set Allen’s body on fire.
Carter’s case marks the third time in recent memory that the District Attorney’s Office has sought the death penalty. In December Coatesville murderer Laquanta Chapman was sentenced to death for the grisly murder of a city teenager. It was the first time in nearly two decades that a Chester County jury had unanimously decided to impose the justice system’s ultimate penalty.
Prosecutors were also prepared to seek capital punishment in the murder case of James Hvizda last year before he pleaded guilty to murdering his wife Kimberly outside an Upper Uwchlan Wawa. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole after the plea.