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.
April 18, 2015 |
He is a self-described dirty cop with a suicide attempt in his past and a history of poor job performance, emotional instability, and lying under oath. The question now before for a jury is: Can anything former Philadelphia Police Officer Jeffrey Walker says be believed? Walker - the government's star witness in the federal corruption trial of six of his former narcotics squad colleagues - finished his testimony Thursday after three grueling days on the stand. By the end, the 46-year-old was clearly exhausted, his shoulders slumped and his head in his hands.
April 16, 2015 |
In his 24 years as a Philadelphia narcotics investigator, Jeffrey Walker testified at countless court hearings, providing the evidence that sent dozens of drug dealers to prison. He took the witness stand again Tuesday - this time to implicate himself and six of his former colleagues as rogue cops who terrorized the streets with gang-like efficiency. As long as the Narcotics Field Unit kept the headline-grabbing drug busts coming, he told a federal jury, its supervisors never asked too many questions.
April 13, 2015 |
Through an open door came the sound of labored, heavy breathing and groans as President Abraham Lincoln lay dying from a gunshot wound to the head. First lady Mary Todd Lincoln passed from the room into a hallway, moaning with inconsolable grief, "O, my God, and have I given my husband to die?" The long death vigil at the Petersen House in Washington unfolded before James Tanner, who'd been summoned to record the testimony of witnesses to the assassination at Ford's Theatre. Though not widely known, Tanner's shorthand and transcribed cursive from the night of April 14, 1865, and morning of April 15, 1865, survived and are kept in an acid-free box in a vault at the Union League of Philadelphia.
April 10, 2015 |
Tony Woods strutted into federal court Wednesday with the swagger of Shaft, the gingham shirt and pink bow tie of a Southern dandy, and an Afro wig worthy of a 1970s blaxploitation film. Then - after the giggling over his appearance died down - he walked jurors through one of the most divisive incidents yet in the corruption trial of six members of an elite Philadelphia police narcotics unit. Woods, testifying in disguise and under a pseudonym because he works undercover, played a central role in a 2012 sting operation in which FBI agents hoped to catch Officers Thomas Liciardello, Brian Reynolds, Michael Spicer, Perry Betts, Linwood Norman, and John Speiser stealing cash from a suspected drug dealer.
April 9, 2015 |
Last week, pot dealer Jason Kennedy told a federal court jury that when a Philadelphia narcotics officer burst into his condo with a sledgehammer in 2010, he thought he was being robbed. He tackled the man to the floor, he said, and was punched in the mouth for his efforts. "Do you like to fight?" Kennedy was asked as his testimony continued Tuesday. He replied: "Yeah, if I'm being attacked. " And for the rest of his time on the witness stand, Kennedy, 42, did everything but throw a punch at those asking the questions to try to prove it. The corruption trial of six members of an elite Philadelphia drug squad continued with blistering cross-examination of Kennedy - a three-hour verbal tussle that left both witness and defense counsel all but bruised and bloodied.