A teen who was 15 when he killed a man during a botched drug robbery in Perkasie was sentenced last week to state prison.
Harrison Moss, 17, of Wyncote, had pleaded guilty in May to voluntary manslaughter and other felonies in the 2016 slaying of Iziah Lewis, 19.
Bucks County Common Pleas Court Judge Rea B. Boylan, noting the seriousness of the crime and Moss’s need for rehabilitation, imposed a sentence Wednesday of six years and 74 days to 12 years and 147 days in state prison, followed by a consecutive 10 years of probation.
The sentence could make Moss eligible for parole shortly after his 22nd birthday.
Moss admitted fatally shooting Lewis on Oct. 29, 2016, in Perkasie’s Kulp Memorial Park after an attempted drug robbery. Moss and three older friends had conspired to rob Lewis of marijuana during an arranged drug deal at the park.
Lewis, a former high school football star, pulled away when Moss grabbed for his marijuana, thwarting the robbery. Lewis left briefly, then returned and walked toward Moss, who shot him in the chest.
Despite being the youngest of the four defendants, only Moss was ordered by Boylan to be prosecuted as an adult. The others, all teens from Perkasie, were adjudicated in juvenile court.
Moss pleaded guilty May 21 to robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, and illegally carrying a firearm without a license in addition to the manslaughter count.
At Wednesday’s sentencing, Moss apologized haltingly to the victim’s family. “Asking for forgiveness would be too much to ask, but I want you to know that I am sorry and that I never intended to hurt anybody,” he said.
He then launched into a lengthy explanation of his actions that night, claiming that he thought Lewis had a gun and tried only to shoot him in the leg. Police found no weapon on Lewis.
Michael Cassano, a Willow Grove psychologist who has counseled Moss since seventh grade, testified that Moss has ADHD and tends to act with a “very limited idea of future consequences.” Being in prison has made him more open to acknowledging his problems and more willing to deal with them, Cassano said.
Deputy District Attorney Marc J. Furber countered that Moss’s crime was not impulsive, that he and his friends had been planning for at least a week to rob marijuana dealers of their drugs so that they could re-sell them for profit.
“The only goal was to rob someone of drugs with a loaded firearm,” Furber argued, calling it a “thrill-seeking” crime. Lewis, he said, “didn’t know what he was getting into.”
On Oct. 27, 2016, one of Moss’s accomplices in Perkasie took two handguns belonging to his father, plus ammunition from a gun safe, and hid them under his bed. The next day, he retrieved the firearms after school and drove with the other two Perkasie youths to Moss’s home in Cheltenham.
Originally the four planned to don masks and rob a Cheltenham dealer, but the dealer refused to meet them. Changing plans, the four returned to Perkasie, where another dealer arranged for them to meet Lewis in the park that night.
At the park, Moss and two of the teens walked toward Lewis’s vehicle. They demanded his drugs, reaching unsuccessfully for the marijuana as Moss and a second teen brandished handguns.
Lewis drove off and the three robbers fled, but Lewis then drove back, got out of his vehicle and chased the three to the rear of the park. One of the robbers, trying to get Lewis to stop, fired a warning shot into the air when Lewis was 20 feet away, Furber said.
Bucks County District Attorney’s Office