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Man gets life in prison, not death penalty in drug-related killing of Pennsylvania couple

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BEAVER, Pennsylvania — A man will spend life in prison instead of being sentenced to death in the drug-related slaying of a western Pennsylvania couple whose young children were locked up nearby.

Jurors in Beaver County deliberated for more than three hours Friday before telling a judge they were hopelessly deadlocked in the sentencing trial of 37-year-old Robert Burgess.

When that happens, the defendant automatically receives a life sentence.

Prosecutors say Richard and Demetria Harper, who were both 32, were tied up and shot in the head in the basement of their Beaver Falls home in June 2008. The killers had locked the couple's 8- and 10-year-old daughters in a small furnace room.

Twenty-seven-year-old Devon Shealey, also of Pittsburgh, was previously convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to two consecutive life terms.

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