Life sentence given to man who fired shots in Nicetown bar

Posted: October 09, 2013

A PHILADELPHIA jury took less than an hour yesterday to find Wayne James guilty of first-degree murder and four counts of aggravated assault for shooting up a Nicetown bar in June 2011 after he was tossed out for smoking marijuana.

James, 47, who represented himself during the four-day trial, apologized to his wife and to Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina, but said nothing to his victims or their relatives.

Sarmina immediately sentenced James to a mandatory sentence of life in state prison without parole for the murder of Carl Sharper, 43, who died inside Genesis Tavern after the defendant shot him between the eyes.

James received an additional 20 to 60 years in prison for aggravated assault against four of the other bar patrons he shot. He was not charged with shooting a sixth victim who declined to cooperate with authorities.

James did not know Sharper or any of the other five people he shot. Security video from the now-closed bar showed James getting escorted out by a bouncer only to return minutes later wearing a different shirt.

He fired three shots outside the bar and emptied the remaining bullets from his 9 mm handgun while standing at the front door.

Assistant District Attorney Brendan O'Malley told the jury that James was a man who "could not play by the rules" and who shot up the crowded neighborhood bar out of revenge after getting ejected.

"They threw him out because he was smoking, they warned him, he continued to do it . . . they did the right thing, they didn't beat him up, they didn't lay a glove on him," O'Malley said. "He comes back 10 minutes later and shoots innocent people in the bar because of that. It's disgraceful, it's offensive, it's evil, and I think the jury saw that."

Sharper, a city Water Department employee with two children and a stepchild, stopped by the bar to pick up a takeout food order when he was gunned down, said his father, Simon Sharper.

"Justice has been served. Mr. James had a fair trial. It will not bring back my son, but justice has been served," Sharper, 70, a native of Guyana, South America, said in a victim-impact statement.

"I wasn't surprised. All the evidence was against him," Sharper said after leaving court. "I believe that he meant to kill everybody, if it had not been for his gun running out of bullets."

On Twitter: @MensahDean

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