Murder Convictions Bring An Outburst In Court Three Were Convicted Of A Revenge Ambush. One Of Them Declared That A Fourth Defendent Jury-tampered.

Posted: August 18, 1993

They called themselves the "Young Guns" gang in South Philadelphia, and they were out for revenge, a prosecutor said.

That's why on Sept. 17, 1990, seven alleged members of the group drove to the Tasker Homes housing project, got out of two cars and opened fire. Ronald Bradley, 32, was killed; his brother, Joseph Bradley, 37, was wounded, and a Young Guns member, Aaron Hainey, 22, was mistakenly killed in the cross-fire.

Yesterday, a Common Pleas Court jury, after deliberating two days, convicted three defendants - George Russell, 20, Clark Henderson, 28, and Prince Hagwood, 29 - of two counts of murder, aggravated assault and related charges.

Four other defendants - Walter Royster, 21, his brother, Denovian Royster, 22, Kevin Cleveland, 20, and John Kennedy, 21 - were acquitted of murder and aggravated assault. The four were convicted of criminal conspiracy and possession of an instrument of crime.

After the verdicts were announced, defendant Clark Henderson jumped to his feet and demanded to address the jury.

"I want to talk to you. We've . . . bribed a member of the jury, your honor," Henderson told Judge Joseph D. O'Keefe. Then he turned and pointed to co-defendant Denovian Royster, who moments before had been acquitted of murder.

"And Denovian Royster knew all about it. He done paid the jury," Henderson blurted. "I ain't have nothing to do with it, your honor. He's supposed to be paying the jury, and I ain't find out nothing about it until this morning. . . . I know one of the jurors on there."

O'Keefe interrupted, "I'm going to ask you to be quiet. If you cannot be quiet, we will have you gagged."

Defense attorneys said afterward that the judge asked them to "research" Henderson's accusation and to report to the court this morning.

David S. Rudenstein, Denovian Royster's attorney, said afterward that his client "did not bribe the jury. We're looking into what happened. We don't know."

Attorney Daniel M. Rendine, whose client, George Russell, was convicted in the killings, said lawyers "were investigating whether or not it happened, and what exactly happened, if anything happened."

O'Keefe ordered all seven defendants back in custody without bail.

The jury was asked to return today to deliberate on the penalty - life in prison or death - for the three defendants convicted of first-degree murder in Ronald Bradley's death.

One female juror expressed concern to the judge about jurors' safety in getting to City Hall today. O'Keefe said that the jurors had nothing to worry about, that he had never heard of jurors being harmed. "A lot of apprehension might be from TV. You'll be fine," O'Keefe said.

Russell, Henderson and Hagwood face life in prison or death for the first- degree murder of Bradley and the third-degree murder conviction in the shooting of Hainey.

Walter and Denovian Royster, Kevin Cleveland and John Kennedy face a maximum penalty of 7 1/2 to 15 years on conspiracy and weapons charges. Sentencing will be Nov. 8.

The dispute began at a Bradley family cookout, where Russell quarreled with Ronald and Joseph Bradley, his cousins. The next day, Sept. 16, 1990, Russell was shot in the foot by three unidentified males in a car, according to testimony.

Then, on Sept. 17, the seven defendants, along with Hainey, pulled up in two cars to the Bradley home. Gunfire erupted. Joseph Bradley, who was wounded, testified that Russell shot him point-blank in the face.

comments powered by Disqus