A man has pleaded guilty to third-degree murder in the shooting death of a South Philadelphia corner store owner on Christmas Eve nearly seven years ago.
Maurice Green, 38, was sentenced to serve from 24 to 40 years in state prison last week on the murder charge and a related gun offense in the 2016 murder of 81-year-old Marie Buck.
“To shoot an unarmed, helpless 81-year-old woman … over a fight over a necklace is incomprehensible,” said Common Pleas Judge Glenn Bronson, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Prosecutor Joanne Pescatore said Green intended to kill another person he blamed for the theft of his $5,500 gold chain but that person wasn’t in the store that morning.
Green expressed remorse and apologized to the family in court Monday, saying he couldn’t bear to look Buck’s family in the eye and would give “an arm, a leg,” if he could to atone. He recalled growing up down the street from Marie’s Grocery and buying sandwiches there.
“I feel as though she haunts me at night,” Green said of Buck, who ran the store for more than 40 years and was a month from retirement.
A jury convicted Green of first-degree murder in a 2019 retrial after his first trial ended in a hung jury. He was sentenced to life without parole, but an appeals court overturned the verdict in 2021, saying the trial judge shouldn’t have allowed prosecutors to present evidence of a previous crime for which the defendant was never arrested or convicted.
Pescatore called the case “a sad commentary on drugs in this city” and said the family “just want this over with.” Family members, some crying, sat together in the courtroom during the proceedings.
“I just don’t think I could’ve went through another trial,” said Buck’s daughter, Marie, 62, who lives with her 87-year-old father two doors down from the former store now used as a medical office. “I miss her more than life itself,” she said.