Accused bodega bandits to be tried in Good Samaritan’s slaying

Posted: September 06, 2012

Two North Philadelphia men were ordered to stand trial Wednesday in the botched holdup of a neighborhood bodega that ended with the execution-style slaying of a Good Samaritan who chased and cornered one robber on Fifth Street.

Edward Freidland, 26, the alleged masked gunman who on March 18 tried to rob the La Familia Latina Mini Market at Fifth Street and Glenwood Avenue, was held for trial on felony murder, attempted murder, robbery, aggravated assault and firearms charges at a preliminary hearing before Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge David C. Shuter.

Freidland's alleged 18-year-old lookout Angel Nieves - who authorities say shot and killed Rafael Del Valle at point-blank range after the 26-year-old bodega customer chased Freidland for two blocks north on Fifth Street and pinned him to the macadam - was ordered to stand trial on first-degree murder, robbery, conspiracy and gun charges.

Defense attorneys David S. Rudenstein, representing Freidland, and Jack McMahon, for Nieves, vigorously contested the charges over a 3-1/2-hour hearing.

Rudenstein conceded that Freidland gave a statement to detectives admitting that he was the masked gunman seen on a security video walking into the crowded bodega shortly after 8:30 p.m., brandishing a silver handgun and confronting owner Antonio Monegro.

Monegro pulls his own gun from his waistband and the two begin rolling on the floor before a gun fires, wounding Monegro, 40, in the abdomen. The robber, whose own gun is dropped in the scuffle, pushes Monegro off of him and runs out the door without getting any money.

Del Valle is seen getting Monegro's gun from another store employee and running outside to chase the robber.

But Rudenstein said Freidland denied shooting Del Valle and even knowing Nieves.

McMahon argued that Nieves was just another customer in the store when the robber enters. The video shows Nieves entering and exiting the store several times before the robber enters. As the robber wrestles with Monegro, the video shows Nieves stoop to the floor, pick up the robber's silver gun and, later, ride away on a bicycle.

Assistant District Attorney Thomas Lipscomb argued that the video shows Nieves "casing the place. He's the lookout."

Lipscomb told Shuter that it was too much of a coincidence that Nieves is there to retrieve the robber's weapon and leave the bodega after the robber fled. Lipscomb said telephone records show calls before and after the robbery between Freidland's cellphone and a phone belonging to a relative of Nieves.

McMahon said there was no evidence proving that Nieves was the gunman who came up behind Del Valle as he guarded the prone robber on Fifth Street and shot him several times in the back.

Del Valle died at the scene.

Shuter, however, cited another security video from cameras mounted outside near the shooting scene in the 3500 block of North Fifth Street. That video shows the robber and pursuer run by followed closely by a man the judge said was dressed like the views of Nieves from inside the store.

The security camera shows Del Valle's shooting in a blurry long-distance view. There is a person in the middle of Fifth Street with another person standing above. A third person approaches from behind, the images blur and then two move away.

Del Valle's sister, Yessenia Colon Del Valle, cried out from the gallery as the video played and ran from the courtroom.

"My brother did not deserve this, he was just trying to do the right thing," Del Valle said afterward. "I just want justice, I want him to spend the rest of his life in prison."


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

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