Jun 13

Commonwealth v. A.J.

Commonwealth v. A.J.

In July of 2012, 2-3 men pulled up in a van on the 200 block of Sharpnack Street, exited, and fired off at least 24 shots from 2-3 guns, killing one man and seriously injuring another. Learn how this Philadelphia gun offense went after going to trial…

A description of the van was broadcast over police radio, and it was spotted just a block away less than two minutes after the shooting. The van was stopped and according to police, 2-3 men jumped out and fled. One individual was stopped less than 100 feet from the van and arrested. A 911 caller told the dispatch officer that two men were running from police in the area that the van was stopped, and that one of the men called the other “Ike”, which was A.K.’s nickname.

The two men mentioned on the 911 call avoided capture that night. The driver of the van, who was stopped, went to trial with another lawyer in 2014 and was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. In 2015, there was a DNA match on one of the murder weapons (ballistics showed there was a match to the bullets recovered from the victim’s body), that came back to A.K., and his palm print was found on the outside of the getaway van.

A.K. rejected the Commonwealth’s “offer” of 30-60 years in exchange for a guilty plea and decided to go to trial. At trial, the defense completely discredited the DA’s star witness who claimed that she witnessed the entire event and described 3 shooters. The defense highlighted her inconsistent statements, and focused in on the ballistic evidence to prove that she wasn’t where she claimed she was during the shooting.

The jury chose to disbelieve her entire testimony, which left several witnesses claiming that only two shooters exited the van and two shooters got back in the van. When the officer who stopped the van testified, the defense cross-examined him with his radio calls, where he indicated that he saw 2 men get out of the car.

Since the driver was apprehended, and there were clearly two other people running away from police, the Commonwealth was unable to prove that A.K. was one of the men in the van at the time of the shooting, and the jury fully believed the criminal defense lawyer’s argument that the DNA on the gun was a “red herring” because A.K. was the apprehended driver’s cousin, and the DNA was found on the barrel of the gun and not on the trigger or grips.

A jury deliberated just 2 hours before finding A.K. not guilty of all charges, including illegal possession of the gun on which his DNA was found.

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