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Life sentence in Philly tow truck fight death

PHILADELPHIA (AP) – A former tow truck driver was sentenced Wednesday to spend the rest of his life in prison by a judge who concluded the man deliberately ran over a driver from a rival company in a dispute over turf.

Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Minehart found Glen McDaniel guilty of first-degree murder and possession of an instrument of crime, then immediately sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility for parole.

Prosecutors showed surveillance video of McDaniel, 27, of Straight Up Towing, repeatedly running over Ray Santiago, 30, of rival Siani’s Towing, shortly before 3 a.m. on Sept. 26, 2010, even once having his wheels lock up because Santiago was entangled in them.

The men had been in a fistfight before McDaniel returned to his truck and killed Santiago, prosecutors told the judge.

“He got a split lip, and because he couldn’t beat him with his fists, he got in his truck and mashed him like a bug,” Assistant District Attorney James Berardinelli said.

McDaniel’s public defender said Santiago was run over accidentally because McDaniel was drunk and trying to maneuver his truck out of a small parking lot.

Surveillance video outside a pub recorded the murder. Minehart, who presided over the trial without a jury, watched the video several times and visited the crime scene.

The tow-truck business is serious in Philadelphia, where the cable TV show “Wreck Chasers” was filmed amid escalating competition _ and violence _ in 2010.

Just weeks before Santiago’s death, a tow driver shot a competitor at an accident scene over who should claim the wrecked car.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)