"Yeah," the man said.
"I'm trying to forget about the whole thing because it's sad. It's really sad," said the man, who during a preliminary hearing still managed to positively identify Anthony "Sleepy" Lewis, 26, as one of two men who ambushed brothers Jerome Foreman, 35, and Khary Foreman, 30, at 24th and Oxford streets.
A judge held Lewis for trial on murder and related charges. His accomplice is still at large.
That episode played out on a busy day at the Criminal Justice Center, during which prosecutors lamented that the type of fear that gripped the man is all too common in Philadelphia.
"It happens in every single homicide case," Assistant District Attorney Richard Sax said of witness intimidation.
"In one way or another, in one shape or form, witnesses are contacted, attempts are made to contact them, there are attempts to buy them off, to threaten them, in every single case."
In another courtroom today, Sax successfully garnered the ultimate punishment for a man who committed the ultimate form of witness intimidation.
Derrick "Heavy" White, who is actually thin, was sentenced to death for the May 6, 2010, murder of a man who was set to testify four months later about a murder he'd witnessed in January 2006.
A jury convicted White, 21, on Tuesday of retaliation against a witness and first-degree murder for the slaying of Abdul Taylor, 33, whom he shot in the head in front of Taylor's mother's home on Ellsworth Street near 23rd, South Philadelphia.
White, Sax said, killed Taylor at the request of Hakim Bond, 23, and cousins Nafeast Flamer, 22, and Marvin Flamer, 37. The trio shot Allen Moment Jr., 26, during an argument in 2006.
A week after Moment died of an infection in August 2008, Sax said, Taylor gave police a five-page statement fingering the Flamer cousins and Bond, who are still awaiting trial.
"Within a month, they were talking about getting rid of Abdul Taylor," Sax said.
White was first linked to the crime by DNA evidence that he left at the murder scene.
"Nothing is more destructive and lends itself to more chaos in the streets than if something bad happens to someone who has the courage to come forward and be a witness in a murder case," Sax said.
The D.A.'s office will take steps to protect a witness if a request is made, Sax said. Taylor, a youth basketball coach who once taught White, did not ask for help, Sax said.
O'Malley, the prosecutor in Lewis' double murder case, said: "We try to convey to every single witness how important it is to testify. We understand it's not easy but, it's absolutely necessary. We can't do it without their testimony."
In the same crowded courtroom that O'Malley had just left, the case of Toteyanin Jones and William Cook was postponed until April 18.
The pair is charged with witness intimidation, simple assault and related offenses for allegedly harassing and assaulting a witness to a 2010 shooting.
Contact Mensah M. Dean at email@example.com or 215-568-8278.