Jason Sweeney, 16, of Philadelphia, was beaten to death by three other teenage boys with a hammer and hatchet. The assailants and Sweeney’s girlfriend then divided $500 that Sweeney had earned at his construction job and went on a drug binge, police said.
The boys are charged with first-degree murder and could face the death penalty if convicted. The brutal nature of the crime stunned even the veteran city judge assigned to this week’s preliminary hearing, the Associated Press reports. “This is something out of the Dark Ages,” said Judge Seamus McCaffery. “I’m not so sure we can call ourselves a civilized society when stuff like this happens.”