Ex-con held for trial in murder of check-cashing business owner

Posted: May 31, 2012

A North Philadelphia man with two prior armed-robbery convictions has been ordered to stand trial on murder and related charges in the March 3 shooting of the owner of a neighborhood check-cashing business.

Eric Locke, 32, was held for trial after a preliminary hearing Wednesday by Municipal Court Judge David C. Shuter on charges of murder, conspiracy, and robbery, and various weapons counts in the death of 53-year-old Joel Blumer.

Locke is accused of being the gunman who accosted Blumer minutes before 9 a.m. as Blumer, of Holland, Bucks County, prepared to open his B&R Check Cashing store at 26th and Sterner Streets.

Assistant District Attorney Dennis McCloskey said an autopsy showed that Blumer, a married father of two, died of a gunshot wound to the neck that pierced both carotid arteries.

McCloskey’s sole witness at the hearing was Nafis Copeland, 28, who testified that he was waiting outside the check-cashing agency with his stepfather. He said he saw Blumer park his car across the street and begin walking toward the store.

Copeland said he momentarily turned to speak with his stepfather when he heard a gunshot.

"I looked around and somebody ran past me," Copeland testified. "He had a gun and he just stared at me."

Copeland said he began walking away because he was scared but he saw the gunman return about 45 seconds later and pick up the bag that Blumer had removed from the trunk of his car.

Locke glared at Copeland as the witness reluctantly identified him as the gunman. Locke dropped his head to his chest and shook it slowly from side to side.

Locke’s attorney, Donald Chisholm II, questioned Copeland about details of what he told police but did not argue for any of the charges to be dropped.

According to court records, Locke pleaded guilty in 1998 to two armed robberies in Philadelphia and was sentenced to 3½ to seven years in prison.

In 2005 Locke pleaded guilty to a count of possessing a firearm and was sentenced to three to six years in prison.

Contact Joseph A. Slobodzian at 215-854-2985, jslobodzian@phillynews.com, or follow him on Twitter @JoeSlobo

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