PITTSBURGH (AP) — A man convicted of killing two sisters of an Iowa state lawmaker was sentenced Thursday to life in prison without parole after a jury deadlocked on whether he should get the death penalty.
In Pennsylvania, a jury must unanimously recommend a death sentence or a life term is automatically imposed.
The same jury on Monday had convicted 45-year-old Allen Wade of first-degree murder, burglary and other crimes for the Feb. 6, 2014, killings of Susan Wolfe, 44, and Sarah Wolfe, 38. They were the sisters of Democratic Iowa state Rep. Mary Wolfe, who attended the trial but was not in court Thursday.
Wade, the victims’ next-door neighbor, shot the women in the head after accosting them as they returned home, separately, from work that night, authorities said. Wade did that apparently to steal a bank card he used to withdraw $600 from an automatic teller machine hours later — money he needed to pay his rent and avoid eviction, prosecutors said.
Judge Edward Borkowski imposed two consecutive life terms, as well 30 to 60 years on top of that for the robbery and burglary counts.
Borkowski asked if Wade had anything to say. Wade replied, “At the advice of my counsel, no, I do not.”
His public defender could not immediately be reached for comment.
At trial, witnesses testified that Wade had an absentee father and a close relationship with a grandmother who died in 2000. They also said he suffered from depression and had a head injury in the weeks leading up to the killings.
The victims’ father thanked prosecutors for their work on the case and lamented the deaths of his daughters.
“Their loss is a tragedy to our family,” Jack Wolfe said after the sentencing. “We really appreciated the hard work and attention given to this by the people of Pennsylvania.”
Another sister, Christy Wolfe, said people had donated money to defray the family’s travel costs to Pennsylvania. The family got permission to put the money instead into a charity they started in their sisters’ memory that distributes funds to a variety of organizations, including those for mental health issues, support for early childhood education programs and the care of animals.
The money has also been donated to other charities, including an arts center in Pittsburgh and a charity for Haiti.
“To be honest, we really tried quite hard not to focus on our sisters’ deaths, but on their lives,” she said.
Two of Wade’s relatives hugged members of the Wolfe family after the sentencing and apologized to them.
Christy Wolfe said, “Our only desire is that the defendant not be on the streets anymore, ever.”