Conaway gets life without parole for Germantown frying-pan murder

A Philadelphia jury today found a Germantown man guilty of killing a grandmother during a home invasion.

After more than a day of deliberation, Corey Conaway, 20, was convicted of first-degree murder and related charges in connection to the Jan. 2010 beating death of 68-year-old Ellen Walton.

As Conaway’s grandmother cradled her face between her hands behind him, Conaway called his actions “despicable” and apologized to “everyone that’s been affected by the trial.”

Common Pleas Court Judge Glenn Bronson agreed with Conaway’s characterization, but had some adjectives of his own to add.

“This was a horrible, depraved crime,” said Bronson before a courtroom filled with Walton’s family and friends. Walton “had the right to be safe in her home.”

Bronson then sentenced a straight-faced Conaway to life in prison without parole.

Afterwards, a teary-eyed Damon Walton, Ellen’s son, said he was “satisfied” with Conaway’s sentence.

“You assume that that’s what the jury is going to decide, but once you actually get that verdict, it puts a lot at rest,” he said.

Victim-impact statements

Prior to Bronson’s ruling, Damon Walton prepared a statement that he handed off to Assistant District Attorney Carolyn Naylor, who prosecuted the case, to read aloud.

In it, Walton told Conaway that he “had such a negative impact. I can’t understand how you could do this to someone that knew you your whole life.”

“I pray that one day I will be able to forgive you,” wrote Walton.

Longtime friend Carol Mack had few words in reaction to Friday’s conviction other than noting, “I’m happy with the verdict.”

Mack, who was joined by more than a handful of fellow South Philadelphia High School alums throughout the trial, said the group will likely have its annual get-together soon. It’ll be the first such gathering since the murder.

The back story

According to police testimony, officers found Walton, Conaway’s neighbor, in her basement on the 6300 block of Magnolia St. on Jan. 18, 2010 while responding to what was believed to be a robbery in progress.

Three days later, Conaway confessed to breaking into Walton’s home and beating her over the head with a frying pan before fleeing in her car with an array of stolen goods.

Conaway told police the incident occurred Jan. 8. He could heard still hear Walton breathing when he broke in again two days later.

Friday’s court appearance was likely Conaway’s last. He was tentatively scheduled to appear next week to face charges stemming from an unrelated burglary incident dating back to Jan. 4, 2010. Conaway pleaded guilty to those charges on Friday.

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