A robber involved in the 2010 fatal shooting of Lawndale jeweler William Glatz Jr. was convicted of second-degree murder last week.
Obina Onyiah, 30, was immediately sentenced to life in prison without parole by Common Pleas Court Judge Sandy L.V. Byrd, according to Kyle Byard, an aide in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office.
Glatz, 67, a Holland, Bucks County, resident, was gunned down inside his jewelry store on the 6400 block of Rising Sun Ave. on Oct. 21, 2010, in a failed robbery attempt by Onyiah and his co-conspirator, Kevin Turner. Turner, 22, who had escaped from a city prison early that month, exchanged gunfire with Glatz. Both suffered fatal wounds in the shootout.
Prosecutors said Onyiah, of the 5400 block of Akron St. in Frankford, also was armed with a gun and fled empty-handed after the shootout. Police arrested him several weeks later.
Onyiah’s trial began May 20 and ended last Friday. A jury convicted him of murder, robbery, conspiracy and weapons offenses. Assistant District Attorney Deborah Watson-Stokes prosecuted the case.
Soon after the crime, police said that two armed men – later identified as Turner and Onyiah – entered the William Glatz Jewelry store just before 11 a.m. on Oct. 21. Glatz had his own gun inside the store and exchanged shots with Turner, who was pronounced dead at the scene. He had been wounded twice.
Glatz had been wounded once and was taken in critical condition to Albert Einstein Medical Center at Broad and Olney, where he died.
The Glatz family had owned the store for more than 60 years. Employees told police that they recognized the two robbers, who had been inside the store at least twice before. Witnesses gave police a description of the surviving robber. who ran from the store west on Passmore Street. Detectives obtained surveillance tape from inside the store, but it took further investigation to identify the unknown robbery.
Within weeks, detectives put a name to the face in the video and obtained an arrest warrant for Onyiah. A woman relative of the suspect helped police capture Onyiah by arranging for him to meet her on the 5200 block of Frankford Avenue, police said. Officers were waiting there when Onyiah arrived.
Police initially regarded Onyiah as a “person of interest” and interrogated him on Nov. 10, 2010, before arresting him later that day. Onyiah, police said, had a violent criminal history and had served prison terms for bank robberies in New Jersey. He was released in 2007.
Turner was supposed to be still in prison, facing unrelated firearms and burglary charges, at the time of the failed jewelry store heist. He had escaped the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility on Street Road on Oct. 12. Authorities did not disclose his method of escape.
As a result of the escape, authorities investigated eight prison guards for failing to follow procedures, but none were charged with aiding Turner’s escape. Some guards were reassigned almost immediately after the escape.
When Onyiah was arrested for the Glatz case, he also was charged with the 2009 robbery of a Citizens Bank branch on Bustleton Avenue.
“That case is still waiting to be tried,” Watson-Stokes said Tuesday. ••