New trial in Easter Sunday killing

Jarrell Seay, 18, was killed on the porch of his family's home.
Jarrell Seay, 18, was killed on the porch of his family's home.
Posted: September 01, 2013

After the first one ended in a hung jury earlier this month, a judge scheduled a new trial Friday in the 2011 murder of Jarell Seay, 18, who was gunned down on Easter Sunday on the front porch of his home in front of his father.

At trial, four witnesses - including Seay's father and grandfather - identified Julian Frisby, 21, as the person who shot Seay after luring him out of his family's West Philadelphia rowhouse.

Frisby's lawyer argued that DNA evidence pointed to another man as the killer. That man hasn't been arrested.

The witnesses, according to Frisby's lawyer Daine Grey, mistakenly identified Frisby because of the rising flames tattooed across his neck - the same tattoo of a man whose DNA was found on the back of a cellphone dropped at the scene. Police believe that man was an accomplice, not the shooter.

Common Pleas Court Judge Barbara A. McDermott declared a mistrial Aug. 5 after jurors had deliberated for three days without reaching a verdict.

On Friday, the judge scheduled a new trial to begin in March of next year.

Frisby remains in jail.

The Seays had just finished dinner that Easter Sunday when the doorbell rang. A popular senior and a standout forward on the basketball team at Wyncote Academy in Montgomery County, Seay was in the basement doing laundry.

Joel Seay said he had never seen the two young men on the porch, or the third one hanging back on the sidewalk.

One of the men whispered into Seay's ear.

"I don't know what you're talking about," Seay answered him.

Then, Frisby, who lived around the corner from the Seays, opened fire, Joel Seay testified at trial.

He said he had prayed to God to erase Frisby's face from his memory so he wouldn't haunt his dreams.

Assistant District Deborah Watson-Stokes said Friday that Seay might have been killed as part of a dispute between groups of teens who lived on different streets.

Seay, who wanted to pursue a career in computers and who was known among his classmates for his sense of humor, was not in a gang, Watson-Stokes said.

But his friends were, and those teens may have shot at Frisby's house days before Seay's killing, she said.

Frisby shot Seay after hearing his rivals had attended a party at Seay's house while his parents were out of town, she said.

"You have a teenager who lost his life, and a father who witnessed the murder of his son," Watson-Stokes said on Friday. "We will try this case until a jury decides."

Contact staff writer Mike Newall at 215-854-2759 or

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