Strip-club killing draws a mixed verdict

Posted: October 28, 2012

AFTER DELIBERATING for three days, a Common Pleas jury deadlocked Friday on the most serious charges facing John Pettit, a onetime strip-club manager accused of murdering a patron in the Oasis club's parking lot in Southwest Philadelphia on Oct. 16, 2009.

Jurors hung on charges of third-degree murder, conspiracy to commit third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the death of James Koons.

Pettit, 51, was convicted of hindering apprehension, a third-degree felony, and two misdemeanors. He was acquitted of aggravated assault in the beating of a friend of Koons'.

Assistant District Attorney Michael Barry said prosecutors would retry Pettit on the hung charges. "There's no doubt about that," he said.

Surveillance video from the Oasis, on Essington Avenue near 70th Street, showed Pettit fighting with Koons in front of the club.

Prosecutors alleged that Pettit had thrown a punch that led to Koons' death.

But defense attorney Robert Lynch said: "I think the jury struggled with what the video showed. We think it was a tragic accident."

Judge Jeffrey Minehart increased Pettit's bail and set a status conference for Nov. 7 to determine the next step in the case.

Contact Michael Hinkelman at or 215-854-2656. Follow him on Twitter @MHinkelman.

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