Philadelphia man sentenced to 10 to 25 years in state prison for 2020 Coopersdale Homes murder

·2 min read

Dec. 28—EBENSBURG, Pa. — A Philadelphia man was sentenced to 10 to 25 years in state prison for his involvement in a 2020 murder at the Coopersdale Homes.

Amir Matthews, 20, entered a guilty plea to third-degree murder in December the day jury selection in his trial was to begin before Judge Tamara R. Bernstein, and was sentenced on the charge Tuesday for the killing of Armel Joe, 26, at a late-night barbecue at Johnstown's Coopersdale Homes complex.

Bernstein sentenced Matthews in line with the plea agreement, which was departing from the standard sentence of 20 to 40 years.

"I've balanced the very serious nature of the crime with your age and mental-health needs," she said in her decision to not deviate from the plea agreement, which judges have the option to do.

Bernstein said she took into consideration his age, that he has children, he has faith that he practices and that at age 20, his brain is still developing.

Families for both men were present in the courthouse the day of sentencing, and while Joe's family did not speak, a victim impact letter was submitted.

"I know that from this letter there is anger occurred, but there is also a prayer for you to make change," Bernstein said.

Assistant District Attorney Kevin Persio said that Joe's family was in agreement with the plea deal.

Matthews was set to face trial later this month for criminal homicide in the shooting death of Joe on May 17, 2020, in a parking lot near Building 20 at the housing complex.

At the time of Matthews' plea, Persio said that, at approximately 1:07 a.m., Matthews shot Joe in the abdomen. Joe was taken to Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center, where he died 30 minutes later in the emergency room, Cambria County Coroner Jeffrey Lees said at the time.

Related charges are still pending in Cambria County court against Terrell "Unique" Foreman, 24, who police alleged helped Matthews hide the gun he used to kill Joe in a baby bag and flee to Philadelphia after the shooting. Police are still searching for Dawn "Duchess" Smith, 26, who also allegedly helped Matthews escape to Philadelphia.

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