Two more guilty pleas in bus shooting

Posted: June 07, 2012

THE MOUNTAIN of evidence that Philadelphia prosecutors had against the defendants arrested in the brazenly barbaric shooting of a SEPTA bus last June appears to have scared two more of the accused from going to trial.

Lawrence Rahyle, 19, and Keith Mup Bellamy, 23, pleaded guilty Wednesday to attempted murder and a battery of related counts instead of beginning their joint trial in Common Pleas Court.

If a jury had convicted them on all charges, each could have been sentenced to hundreds of years in prison, said Judge Willis W. Berry Jr., who sentenced Rahyle to four to 10 years in prison and five years' probation. He sentenced Bellamy to 7?1/2 to 15 years in prison. Both sentences were negotiated with the District Attorney's Office.

Of the seven defendants, six now have pleaded guilty to attempted murder and related counts. Dimetrius Patterson, 23, is the lone defendant who has not pleaded and has a preliminary hearing set for next week.

Prosecutors said Rahyle and Bellamy were among six people who met the Route 47 bus at 7th Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue on June 18, after a passenger and friend of theirs, Penny Chapman, 21, used her cellphone to call for help after arguing with a male passenger who had criticized her for spanking her young son. Rahyle and Bellamy "encouraged" the male passenger to get off the bus and also "encouraged" co-defendants Karon Patterson, 20, and Raheen Patterson, 22, to shoot at the bus, Assistant District Attorney Morgan Model Vedejs told Berry.

"I just want the court to know that I show 100 percent remorse," said Rahyle, who must finish an 11?1/2-to-23-month sentence for a separate gun conviction before he begins serving his new sentence.

"I'm happy that no one got killed on that bus," Bellamy said.

Prosecutor Vedejs and her cocounsel, Ed Jaramillo, told Berry that had there been a trial, they were prepared to call 28 witnesses to testify against Rahyle and Bellamy. More than 80 exhibits would have been shown to the jury, along with incriminating police statements from Chapman and a second defendant and video from cameras mounted inside and outside the bus, the prosecutors said.

Contact Mensah M. Dean at 215-568-8278 or deanm@phillynews.com.

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