Police Have Fugitive In Possible Wrongful-conviction Case Yeidja Bostick Is Doing Time For A Crime She Said Was Done By Reginald Hallman. He Was Arrested Sept. 10.

Posted: September 17, 1992

For years, Yeidja Bostick has maintained that a fugitive named Reginald Hallman was driving the stolen showroom Volvo that crashed and killed a woman during a 1989 high-speed chase - a homicide for which Bostick is now serving a prison term.

Yesterday, after Philadelphia police said they had arrested Hallman on bad- check charges last week, sources familiar with the case said Hallman had confessed to driving the car. But the sources said Hallman later recanted his written confession.

Hallman's arrest has further complicated a tangled case that has been in and out of court since Bostick, a waitress and aspiring model from North Philadelphia, was convicted of vehicular homicide in June 1990. Both Bostick's attorney and prosecutors said yesterday they had not yet decided what to do with Hallman, a key witness who was at large during Bostick's trial.

According to two sources, Hallman volunteered to detectives - and later to an assistant district attorney - that he had been driving the stolen Volvo. But they said Hallman quickly recanted after being allowed to make a phone call.

The District Attorney's Office refused to discuss details of its questioning of Hallman.

Five witnesses told The Inquirer in December that they saw a man fitting Hallman's description driving the Volvo as it struck a van at an intersection in Southwest Philadelphia in August 1989, killing Agnes Fisher, 56. Two of those witnesses testified at a special hearing in July that a young black man - Hallman, 32, is black - was driving at impact.

All five witnesses have said Bostick, 24, who is serving a 5-to-10-year sentence, was riding in the Volvo's passenger seat at impact. The driver of the car was speeding away from police at the time of the collision.

Hallman, who is wanted in three states, was arrested Sept. 10 after a hotel official complained that a customer was paying his bill with a bad check, police said. They said Hallman attempted to pay a $6,000 hotel bill at the Korman Suites Hotel on Hamilton Street that morning with a stolen check that he signed with a forged signature.

Hallman was charged with forgery, theft of services, passing a bad check and receiving stolen property. After a computer check turned up fugitive warrants from three states and several federal agencies, a police source said, Hallman was held without bail.

Authorities in Georgia, New Jersey and Delaware County have told Philadelphia police that they intend to seek extradition of Hallman, police here said. A police source said the IRS, the U.S. Treasury Deparment and the U.S. Postal Service have inquired about Hallman in connection with forgery, credit-card and mail-fraud investigations.

According to state authorities, Hallman is wanted in Atlantic City for car theft and assaulting an officer; in Media, Delaware County, for firearms and bad-check charges, and in Fulton County, Ga., for probation violations.

Hallman also is a suspect in the December 1990 shooting death of a motorist on Interstate 85 outside Atlanta, according to Detective David O'Neal of the

College Park, Ga., Police Department.

Bostick's attorney, Neil Jokelson, said the District Attorney's Office did not notify him until yesterday that Hallman had been arrested. Bill Davol, a spokesman for the office, said prosecutors are not required to inform defense lawyers of the arrest of a possible witness arrested on unrelated charges.

Assistant District Attorney Bruce Sagel said he mailed documents pertaining to Hallman's arrest to Jokelson on Tuesday. Sagel declined to discuss details of the arrest.

Jokelson said he intended to ask Common Pleas Court Judge Joseph I. Papalini, who has been holding hearings on Bostick's request for a new trial, to award the new trial based on Hallman's availability as a new witness. A status hearing in the case already had been scheduled for Oct. 5, with further hearings scheduled before Papalini for Oct. 19.

The prospect of testimony by Hallman "compels a new trial being awarded, if for no other reason than the interest of justice," Jokelson said.

Bostick, who did not testify at her trial, has told The Inquirer that Hallman was an acquaintance who was giving her a ride the day of the accident.

Police and prosecutors were unable to tell Bostick's trial judge why they had not pursued Hallman, even though witnesses at the crash scene told police they had seen a man get out of the driver's side and limp away. A police investigator testified that he made no attempt to determine whether the man was driving the car once Bostick had been charged.

Hallman, who police say uses several aliases, has escaped from police several times after high-speed, stolen-car chases remarkably similar to the chase in the Bostick case.

In 1984, according to court records, Hallman killed a man while driving a car during a high-speed police chase in Atlanta. Like the Bostick case, the crash involved a stolen dealership car whose driver sped away from police, according to Fulton County Police Officer R. G. Marlow.

Marlow said Hallman crashed the car into a utility pole, killing his passenger, Bruce Blackman.

"The car split in two, the passenger died on impact. But the driver got out and hauled out of there," Marlow said. "He didn't have a mark on him . . . Damn, he's lucky."

Hallman was not apprehended until 1986, when he was arrested for car theft and credit card fraud in Ohio, police records show. He was returned to Atlanta, where he pleaded guilty in January 1987 to vehicular homicide and stealing three cars.

Hallman was sentenced to five years' probation and fined $1,000. He jumped probation and never paid the fine, according to Lt. Col. H.G. Bailey of the Fulton County Sheriff's Office.

In 1989 and 1990, police records show, Hallman escaped from police three times: in Atlantic City on May 25, 1989; in College Park, Ga., on Sept. 5, 1989, and outside Atlanta on Dec. 11, 1990.

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