By Matt Stroud
December 31, 2013
When Stacey Torrance was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in a Philadelphia courtroom in 1988, the sentence seemed somewhat unusual. First of all, life in prison is typically reserved for perpetrators of violent crime. And while someone had been killed during the chain of events that landed Torrance in front of a judge, Torrance hadn’t planned or participated in the killing. Torrance had agreed to lure Alexander Porter, the brother of a friend, to an older acquaintance who planned to steal Porter’s keys and then burgle the home of Porter’s father. But instead of simply stealing Porter’s keys, the older acquaintance, along with an accomplice Torrance had never met, tied him up and threw him into the trunk of their car. Torrance, too, was tied up — something he had not agreed to. Torrance was then taken to his mother’s home and released. Porter was driven away and eventually killed by Torrance’s older acquaintances, who were later tried for first-degree murder and eventually sentenced to a lifetime in prison.
Secondly, Torrance had never been in trouble with the law before. And a life sentence for a non-violent first offense tends to raise eyebrows — particularly when the offender didn’t pull a trigger.