July 1, 2015 |
In the haze surrounding former Philadelphia Police Sgt. Brandon Ruff's firing, there are three events on which all parties can agree. Ruff, while off duty, walked into 35th District headquarters in Ogontz on Aug. 3 and dropped a bag of guns on the counter. He was detained moments later. And within six months, he had lost his job. Everything else that happened between those moments remains up for debate - as was made clear Monday in a civil trial before a federal jury. Ruff, an eight-year police veteran, whose last posting was in Powelton's 16th District, is suing the department and six officers involved in a scuffle that day. He says they assaulted and falsely arrested him when he attempted to anonymously turn in three guns that he had confiscated under a no-questions-asked gun buyback program.
June 12, 2015 |
THE N-WORD took another complicated and controversial trip through the world of context yesterday during the civil trial of a white Fox 29 anchor who contends he was fired for saying it during a news meeting in 2007. Current and former Fox 29 employees, both black and white, testified that they were both offended and shocked when former anchor Tom Burlington chimed in about colleague Robin Taylor's story on symbolic burial of the notorious racial epithet by the Philadelphia Council of the NAACP.
June 11, 2015 |
The March 3, 2012, auto accident in Swampoodle that killed Anthony Reeder's girlfriend of two years left him uninjured but emotionally crushed. The next day, he opened up to an Inquirer reporter, describing the loss of 49-year-old Sheila Whalen, the accident, and a mysterious driver who fled the overturned Jeep Liberty in the 3100 block of Bambrey Street. "In a blink of an eye, your whole life can change," Reeder told the reporter. "I never, ever had someone who was a good friend, a girlfriend, and a confidante.
May 30, 2015 |
A longtime civilian worker in the Philadelphia Police Department was acquitted by a judge Thursday of charges that she brandished a gun and threatened to kill a South Philadelphia woman last summer during a dispute between families. Kathy Pugh, 53, was found not guilty of terroristic threats, simple assault, reckless endangerment, and conspiracy after a nonjury trial before Common Pleas Court Judge Joan A. Brown. Brown warned Pugh to stay away from the other family in the dispute.
May 29, 2015 |
State Superior Court handed its second smackdown Wednesday to lawyers seeking to collect a fine of nearly $1 million against Philadelphia-area insurance defense lawyer Nancy Raynor. In a one-paragraph ruling, the court barred Philadelphia lawyers Matthew D'Annunzio and Joseph Messa from collecting the fine while it considers Raynor's appeal of the penalty. Raynor was fined $946,127 in November by Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Paul Panepinto, who accused her of permitting an expert witness to introduce banned testimony in a medical-malpractice trial in 2012.
May 11, 2015 |
DURING GRAPHIC testimony yesterday, a former Philadelphia deputy medical examiner snaked a belt around prosecutor Peter Lim's neck, demonstrating for a jury how he believes Dr. Melissa Ketunuti's killer tightened a leather belt around her neck before setting her body on fire. Dr. Gary Collins, now Delaware's chief medical examiner, testified for the prosecution on the third day of trial for 39-year-old Jason Smith. Smith is the exterminator accused of killing Ketunuti, 35, before binding her neck, wrists and ankles and setting her body ablaze Jan. 21, 2013 when he visited her Southwest Center City rowhouse to address a rodent problem.
May 9, 2015 |
In testimony that undercut the defense theory of an unknown killer, a Philadelphia fire marshal testified Thursday that the fire in the house of physician Melissa Ketunuti would have been set within minutes of the time exterminator Jason Smith was seen on video leaving the area. Defense attorney J. Michael Farrell, however, angrily objected to Lt. George Werez's testimony, challenging his expertise to estimate the time a fire was set from the amount of smoke in a building. Werez based his estimate on a hypothetical question posed by Assistant District Attorney Peter Lim, who cited earlier testimony about the amount of smoke in the house by a dog walker who arrived at 12:30 p.m. to exercise Ketunuti's dog and discovered her body burning in the basement.
May 6, 2015 |
Testimony in the federal corruption trial of six Philadelphia narcotics investigators concluded Monday with one of the defendants - Officer Michael Spicer - emerging from government grilling relatively unfazed. While prosecutors had tangled with previous defense witnesses in highly charged exchanges, Spicer's cross-examination was far less confrontational. Much of Assistant U.S. Attorney Maureen McCartney's questioning focused on what Spicer did not see in the 18 drug investigations flagged by the FBI as suspect and what might have happened when he was not around.
April 29, 2015 |
Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane orchestrated an illegal leak to embarrass a critic and later lied about it under oath, according to a grand jury report made public Monday. The panel found that Kane's testimony was "riddled with inconsistencies" and that she lied about virtually every aspect of the leak, from her motivation to what she knew about the leaked documents and to who else was involved. In painting her as a liar, the grand jury relied on testimony from Kane's senior appointees, whose accounts were at odds with hers.
April 22, 2015 |
After all the courtroom jostling and legal swordplay, it may in the end come down to this - the word of three witnesses against one. Any day now, Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Paul Panepinto is expected to issue his second and likely final ruling on the $1 million penalty he imposed on insurance defense lawyer Nancy Raynor. This decision has had the city's legal community buzzing. The emerging consensus is that the penalty, unprecedented in its magnitude, isn't justified based on the alleged offense and sets a terrible precedent.