Woman pleads guilty in bistate crime spree

Shayna Sykes with boyfriend Blake Bills. The two were accused in a March drug-induced crime spree. She pleaded guilty to all charges.
Shayna Sykes with boyfriend Blake Bills. The two were accused in a March drug-induced crime spree. She pleaded guilty to all charges.
Posted: July 14, 2013

A woman accused of stealing a Philadelphia police car in March as part of a drug-induced crime spree with her boyfriend pleaded guilty to all charges Friday.

The plea came after Common Pleas Court Judge Charles Ehrlich denied Shayna Sykes' motion to quash aggravated-assault charges.

Ehrlich set sentencing for Sept. 16.

Assistant District Attorney Gaetano D'Andrea said Sykes faced a mandatory one to two years in prison because she had several convictions for driving under the influence.

On March 5, Sykes, 24, of Macungie, Pa., and boyfriend Blake Bills, 24, allegedly stole an idling Camden police car while the officer made a routine traffic stop. Bills and Sykes then led pursuing police over the Benjamin Franklin Bridge into North Philadelphia before crashing the car into a home. Bills was then apprehended.

Sykes, however, escaped and stole a Philadelphia police car. She was arrested after that car caught fire during a second police chase.

Two people were hit by the stolen cars. The couple had been continuously high on cocaine and heroin during the theft and three preceding days.

Sykes' attorney, Geoffrey Kilroy, tried to persuade Ehrlich to quash the aggravated-assault charges, arguing that Sykes may have acted recklessly, but not with malice.

"In no way, shape, or form did she set out to hurt anybody," Kilroy said. He called her decision to flee from police in the cruiser a "typical, basic human instinct."

Kilroy said an accused person must display deliberate malice to be convicted of aggravated assault.

D'Andrea maintained that Sykes could not claim that she was unknowingly committing a crime after she participated in the high-speed heist led by Bills.

"She saw firsthand what will happen if you do this," D'Andrea said. "For the past 30 to 40 minutes, she watched the chaos being caused by the exact same thing she was about to do."

After Ehrlich denied the quashing motion, Sykes pleaded guilty to all charges, including criminal mischief and reckless endangerment. Earlier in the morning, Bills' hearing was continued until July 29 pending a psychological evaluation.


Contact Theodore Schleifer at 215-854-5607 or tschleifer@philly.com, or follow on Twitter @teddyschleifer.

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