Watch CBS News

'I Will Never Forgive You': Officer Shaw's Family Gives Emotional Testimony During Sentencing Phase

GREENSBURG (KDKA) -- The sentencing phase of the trial of Rahmael Holt, who is accused in the fatal shooting of New Kensington Police Officer Brian Shaw, is underway today at the Westmoreland County Courthouse.

Holt, 31, was found guilty on all counts in the case, including first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer, Tuesday afternoon.

It took the jury just about an hour and 10 minutes to deliberate.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Everyone returned to the courtroom Wednesday for the sentencing phase. The court wrapped up for the day around 3:40 p.m. and will continue Thursday morning at 9 a.m. with the defense calling more witnesses.

A pastor and Holt's girlfriend Vanessa Portis will both take the stand Thursday morning in an attempt to demonstrate Holt is more than a killer.

Portis has been described as the one good influence on Holt, and she was with him in the hours following officer Shaw's murder.

Officer Shaw's mother was the first to take the stand as part of the sentencing phase. Holt sat expressionless as Officer Shaw's family spoke to the court

Looking directly at Holt, she told him: "I will never forgive you for what you did to him and our family."

She described her son as intelligent, athletic, genuine and understanding. She said she will never have any new memories of him, including ones in his new house, which he had just closed on days before he was fatally shot.

Steffan Shaw, a Penn Hills police officer and Officer Shaw's brother, also took the stand. He walked the court through the night of his brother's murder and how he can still hear his mother's scream when he called with the news.

He told the court: "This world is full of evil and I've seen it firsthand at work, and now it's sitting right in front of me in this courtroom."

The defense put forth Holt's childhood neighbor and school tutor as it lone witness Wednesday.

"We had a mitigation witness who knew of Rahmael Holt as a child and talked about his childhood, the lack of really any parental involvement, he had no father," said Holt's defense attorney Timothy Dawson.

The jury will take in all the factors and then decide if Holt will face the death penalty or spend the rest of his life in jail.

The jury needs to be unanimous on the death penalty. If only one juror says "no," then he will receive a life sentence.

Officer Shaw was shot and killed in November of 2017 trying to pull over a vehicle.

The initial phase of Holt's trial took six days to complete.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.