Peter Leonce, 21, of Astoria, NY, was sentenced Friday to 45 years in New Jersey state prison on charges of murder and aggravated manslaughter for his involvement in the gang-related slaying of 18-year-old Muriah Huff, of Cinnaminson, and Michael Hawkins, 23, of Mount Holly, according to the Camden County Prosecutor's Office. Leonce was found guilty in July.
Huff's family was present at the sentencing and showed little sympathy for Leonce, the prosecutor stated.
"Now we stand here and we hear him crying about 30 years, crying about time," Huff’s uncle Earl Huff said after listening to Leonce ask the judge for leniency. "Muriah doesn’t have any more time."
Assistant Prosecutor Christine Shah, who tried the case, emphasized in her remarks that Huff was killed specifically for the purpose of keeping her from telling anyone about Hawkins’ killing.
“Most importantly though there is a tremendous and overwhelming need to deter this defendant and others from threatening those who have witnessed crimes,” she said. “They have to feel safe and be safe and the best way to accomplish this is to punish those who threaten witnesses, those who harm witnesses and those who kill witnesses.”
Leonce must serve close to 43 years before he is eligible for parole.