The Crime

On May 15, 1992, in Philadelphia, PA, Sylvia met with friends Aaron Major and Lamont (Antwan) Blagman and travelled to Ms. Bernetta Pope’s house. Both Sylvia and Ms. Pope were suffering from substance addiction; Sylvia was going to drop more drugs off with Ms. Pope and ask for the money that Ms. Pope owed and was not paying. Sylvia left Major and Blagman in the car while she went to collect the money from Ms. Pope. When Sylvia did not return quickly, Major and Blagman entered the house a few minutes later.

From this point forward, trial testimonies are inconsistent and contradictory, but shots were fired and Ms. Pope was fatally shot. The only evidence is from the medical examiner, who testifies that Ms. Pope was struck with two different bullets that came from two different weapons. The prosecution rests its case on the eyewitness testimony of Albert Sutton, Ms. Pope’s son, who claims that Sylvia ordered Major and Blagman to shoot both himself and his mother. Sylvia says that prior to this incident, the police had a warrant out for the arrest of Albert Sutton, as he was involved in drug markets. She believes that the District Attorney’s Office made a deal with Sutton; they would absolve his drug charges if he testified against Sylvia and her codefendants.

Rather, Sylvia, as well as Major and Blagman, have and continue to testify that Albert Sutton threatened them with a gun when they asked for the money. Aaron Major admits to having a gun on his person at the scene of the crime, which would be consistent with the medical examiner’s findings. Both Major and Blagman testified before the court that Sylvia did not order anyone to shoot, nor was she in possession of a weapon. Blagman was released from his life sentence in 1998 after filing an appeal in the Superior Court of Pennsylvania. Both Sylvia and Aaron Major remain incarcerated, despite numerous appeals.