Convicted murderer Kareem Savage will be in court Tuesday to face sentencing in the slayings of community leader Miles Mack and Darren Hankins.
Savage, a self-confessed enforcer for a North Philadelphia drug gang, was found guilty in July of two counts of murder in the first degree and four counts of attempted murder. He was also found guilty of third degree murder for the July 2008 killing of Valentino Cortez Ennis.
“The defendant was found guilty on all charges. Being found guilty of first-degree murder carries a mandatory life sentence and Mr. Savage was convicted on two counts of murder in the first-degree; which is life without the possibility of parole,” said Assistant District Attorney Brian Zarallo, who successfully prosecuted the case. “Mr. Savage was found guilty of murder for the deaths of Miles Mack and Darren Hankins and four counts of attempted murder for shooting Douglas Mathis, Derrick Segers, Terrell Spencer and Mikal Hanton. He was also found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder and weapons charges.”
Community activist and basketball coach Miles Mack, 42, was one of two victims gunned down on September 11, 2008 when Savage and his alleged accomplice, Malik Johnson, another bargain basement hit man, entered the McAlpin Playground at 36th and Aspen Streets. The intended target was the first victim, 19-year old Darren Hankins, who was allegedly ordered to die by John Cornish, the alleged leader of Thompson University, a violent small-time North Philadelphia drug gang.
Cornish, 22, and Savage’s alleged accomplice, Malik Johnson, have not been charged yet in the murders of Mack and Hankins. Both men are awaiting trial on murder charges in the shooting of Steven Tucker, 53, on October 7, 2008.
“Thompson University has been around for a fairly long time, about 10 or 15 years,” said Capt. Dennis Cullen, Commander of the Criminal Intelligence Unit. Cullen said the gang operates in the vicinity of 29th and Thompson Streets and extends no more than a block or two in any direction. “It’s a small territory. Most of the older members started when they were young kids. Members go to prison or get seriously injured and younger boys in the neighborhood take the reigns, becoming very aggressive. Older members who are injured take an advisory role.”
The case against Savage was built on his 8-page confession to police. According to Savage’s statements, he sold drugs for the gang and was an enforcer. When Cornish allegedly ordered Savage and accomplice Malik Johnson to “take care of” Hankins, they carried out his orders. Savage told police during his confession that they knew if they didn’t, they would be killed.
“There’s just not enough evidence yet to charge Malik Johnson with these murders other than the defendant’s statement. I can’t comment on the status of the investigation, but there is no statute of limitations on murder,” Zarallo said.