Jury acquits in 2009 execution of two in West Philly

Posted: October 13, 2013

After four years in prison awaiting trial, Nafis Pinkney was acquitted Friday of the 2009 execution-style double murder in West Philadelphia.

The Common Pleas Court jury of eight women and four men deliberated about three hours before acquitting Pinkney, 24, of the slayings of best friend Jonathan Pitts, 21, and Pitts' girlfriend, Nakeisha Finks, 20.

Afterward, defense attorney Gregory J. Pagano lambasted homicide detectives for coercing a confession from Pinkney.

"He was held for 24 hours before he was questioned and then fed just enough details to make it believable," Pagano said.

Pagano said Pinkney, who had no prior criminal record and a good work record as a baggage handler at Philadelphia International Airport, could be released by the weekend.

The prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Mark Levenberg, could not be reached for comment.

"While we respectfully disagree with the verdict," said Tasha Jamerson, spokeswoman for the District Attorney's Office, "right now our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Nakeisha Finks and Jonathan Pitts who are still dealing with the tragic loss of their loved ones."

According to testimony at Pinkney's preliminary hearing in November 2009, police went to a house in the 5500 block of Delancey Street about 11 a.m. Aug. 29 after a call from Finks' three sisters.

The house had been ransacked, and when police went upstairs they found two bodies on the bed partly covered by a quilt. Both had duct tape over the eyes and tape binding their arms. Each had a single gunshot wound to the back of the head.

Atop the quilt was a brown envelope with "$96" written on the outside.

Pinkney was originally questioned by police as a neighborhood witness, but detectives testified that they became skeptical about what they called his inconsistent statements he made on Aug. 29 and 30.

Ultimately, according to court testimony, Pinkney admitted recruiting two burglars to steal drug money and telling them how to break into the Delancey Street house, where he believed Pitts hid a hoard of drug cash.

According to court testimony, Pinkney told detectives that he met the burglars after the break-in and that they told him they had found no money and had killed Pitts and Finks.


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