It was a verdict almost a dozen years in the making, but justice may have to wait some more.
A Common Pleas Court jury on Feb. 25 found a former Frankford man guilty of first-degree murder in the slayings of two neighborhood teens over an alleged drug debt in 2002. Yet three days after the verdict, the same jury spared Fernando Real, 31, a death sentence. Real, who is already serving life in prison for an unrelated 2002 murder, will be formally sentenced to two additional life terms on April 25.
The latest case stemmed from a Sept. 9, 2002, shooting on the 5200 block of Hawthorne St. where Real cornered Byron Story and Marcus Herbert, both 18, on Herbert’s porch at about 4:30 a.m., pulled a gun and fired numerous bullets at them. Story suffered a head wound and died at the scene. Herbert was hospitalized with multiple back wounds and died 13 months later.
Police detectives suspected a drug link from the start. Story, of the 900 block of Brill St. in Oxford Circle, had been convicted on drug charges before. In a 2003 interview with the Northeast Times, Story’s mother, Juanita Jones, revealed that her son had fallen back into a bad crowd after earning a high school diploma from the Glen Mills Schools. But he also aspired to get a legitimate job and study business management in college, she said.
The slayings remained unsolved until 2007, when authorities re-arrested Real. Last week, the jury deliberated for just three hours before convicting him of two first-degree murder counts, along with robbery, conspiracy and firearms offenses. ••