2 West Philly gang members get life in teen's murder

STEVEN M. FALK / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Yasin Harvey 's mother (left), Monique, and aunt, Debbie Anderson: Monique said she was pleased with the "verdict of justice."
STEVEN M. FALK / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Yasin Harvey 's mother (left), Monique, and aunt, Debbie Anderson: Monique said she was pleased with the "verdict of justice."
Posted: May 16, 2014

TWO MEMBERS of a West Philadelphia gang were convicted by a jury yesterday in the May 2012 street-corner murder of a teen bystander.

The Common Pleas jury of seven women and five men took less than three hours to find Elijah Fleming, 26, and Justin Brown, 23, members of the 64th and Callowhill Street gang, guilty of first-degree murder, conspiracy and the illegal use of a firearm in the death of Yasin Harvey, 16.

The teen was shot four times as he left a store at 62nd and Callowhill streets on the night of May 2. He and his mother, Monique Harvey, had moved to Philadelphia from Atlantic City just six months earlier.

The defendants were gunning for a member of the rival 62nd and Callowhill Street gang when Fleming drove by the corner and Brown fired a handgun through the front passenger window, according to trial testimony.

"It's about pride and it's about not letting anyone disrespect you. It's about turf," Assistant District Attorney Jack O'Neill said last week in explaining to the jury the basis of the gang feud that claimed Harvey, who was not involved with a gang.

Judge Genece E. Brinkley immediately sentenced both defendants to life sentences without the possibility of parole for the murder count and to concurrent sentences of 13 1/2 to 27 years for the other two counts.

The announcement of the guilty verdicts led members of the defendants' families to wail in disbelief and bolt from the courtroom.

"I'm sorry, Mom," Fleming said, looking over his shoulder, before his mother fled the room.

After leaving the courtroom, Monique Harvey said: "I'm very, very, very pleased with the verdict. I prayed on it. I promised Yasin a verdict of justice for him, and I believe that I received that today."

"He was a very lovable, likable kid. His family loved him. He was just a good kid," she said of Yasin, who attended University City High School.

That February, a 64th and Callowhill member and Brown's best friend, Stephan Hamilton, 21, was shot and killed. Fleming himself was kidnapped, robbed and beaten that March 27, and Fleming shot and injured a 62nd and Callowhill member later that day, O'Neill told the jury.

Kareem Terry, 21, a 64th and Callowhill member who testified for the prosecution in exchange for immunity from prosecution, told the jury that he was in the back seat of the car as Fleming ordered Brown to open fire on the man who they believed had killed Hamilton.

Defense attorneys Jack McMahon, for Brown, and David Mischak, for Fleming, argued that Terry was the gunman and that the prosecution had made a deal with a cunning murderer.

On Twitter: @MensahDean

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