Protesters demand release of Philly teen arrested in blind neighbor's home invasion

Greg Brinkley and other supporters of Tomayo McDuffy, including McDuffy's mother, Nesheba Adams (center), rallied outside the District Attorney's Office yesterday.
Greg Brinkley and other supporters of Tomayo McDuffy, including McDuffy's mother, Nesheba Adams (center), rallied outside the District Attorney's Office yesterday. (ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)
Posted: August 30, 2013

THE PROTESTERS marched through a rain falling so hard that it drenched their clothes and made the colors run on their handwritten signs.

As they rallied outside the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office yesterday, Flora Adams decided she had something to say. She turned to the lunch-breakers and smokers sheltering under the Wanamaker Building's overhang nearby and began scolding them.

"You need to pitch in, grandmothers, and stop being lazy!" Adams, 67, shouted into a bullhorn. "It's time for you to stop sleeping, stop being scared and get out here and stand up for an innocent child. . . . You better protect your grandchildren, because this man [District Attorney Seth Williams] will put them in jail!"

Adams was among a dozen or so protesters who demonstrated to demand that Williams free Tomayo McDuffy, Adams' grandson, from prison and drop criminal charges against him.

McDuffy, 18, of Holmesburg, was charged with attempted murder and related offenses in the May home invasion of blind neighbor Maria Colon.

Colon told police that her guide dog had dialed 9-1-1 and that her assailants stole nothing but left the kitchen gas on. She said she knew that McDuffy had broken into her home because she recognized his voice.

But McDuffy's supporters say Colon is a chronic liar who has repeatedly and wrongfully accused her estranged children and ex-boyfriend of committing crimes against her. They question her claim of complete blindness, saying she had a driver's license until the spring. And McDuffy's attorney, Beverly Muldrow, has requested a voice lineup to test Colon's claim that the intruder's voice she heard was McDuffy's.

No one emerged from the D.A.'s office yesterday to address protesters, but spokeswoman Tasha Jamerson later told the Daily News that her office is confident that McDuffy was correctly charged.

"The victim in this case had her door broken down from the outside, and the gas on her stove was turned on, all while she was sleeping," Jamerson said. "[She] is legally blind and has had several guide dogs for years, something that has to be approved by strict guidelines."

The driver's license "is clearly a clerical error," Jamerson added. She directed further questions to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, but a spokeswoman there said privacy laws prevented her from discussing Colon or any specific drivers.

McDuffy's supporters, though, complained that prosecutors are as blind - to facts that could exonerate McDuffy - as Colon says she is.

"The people put you in, and the people will put you out," protester Asa Khalif, founding president of Racial Unity's Philadelphia chapter, shouted to Williams. "We will not forget what you've done to Tomayo. Let him go, let him go now, while you still got a chance for Election Day."

On Twitter: @DanaDiFilippo


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