May 15, 2015 |
SIX EX-NARCOTICS officers accused of going rogue and robbing suspected drug dealers during a six-year reign of terror walked out of federal court yesterday as free men after a jury acquitted them of all charges at the end of a six-week trial. Relatives of the former Narcotics Field Unit cops - Thomas Liciardello, 38; Michael Spicer, 47; Brian Reynolds, 43; Perry Betts, 47; Linwood Norman, 47; and John Speiser, 42 - packed into the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno to hear the verdict, which came just after 11 a.m. They erupted into cheers and tears of joy after the jury foreman answered "not guilty" to each of the 26 counts against the men. Some of the officers faced more counts than others, but the charges against them included racketeering conspiracy, robbery, use of excessive force and falsifying police reports.
May 14, 2015 |
Federal jurors deliberating the fate of six members of an elite Philadelphia narcotics squad said Tuesday that they were at "an impasse on one or more counts. " The six-man, six-woman panel alerted U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno of their stalemate in a note just after 2:30 p.m. - about 20 hours into their discussions. The judge sent them back instructions to keep trying to reach a unanimous verdict. "Although it may seem like an eternity, it has only been 31/2 days of deliberations," Robreno told them.
May 11, 2015 |
AFTER A DAY and a half of deliberations, a jury of six women and six men tasked with deciding the corruption case against six ex-narcotics cops left U.S. District Court yesterday without a verdict. The jurors are to decide whether to convict Officers Thomas Liciardello, 38, Brian Reynolds, 43, Michael Spicer, 47, Perry Betts, 47, Linwood Norman, 47, and Michael Speiser, 42, on various counts related to allegations that they threatened and robbed drug dealers, and falsified paperwork while working in a narcotics squad.
April 10, 2015 |
THE PHILLIES were playing in Cincinnati on a Monday night. Ben Revere made a highlight-reel catch, with the words "Pray for Boston" freshly etched on his glove. The Red Sox had just wrapped up their annual Patriots' Day game at Fenway Park before heading out for a short, three-game trip to Cleveland. A week before the 2-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing, a federal jury declared that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was guilty of all 30 counts he was charged with in the horrific event that left three spectators dead and wounded more than 200 people.
March 13, 2015 |
For the second time in 12 months, a Philadelphia jury was unable to reach a verdict in the trial of a Catholic priest accused of sexually assaulting a 10-year-old altar boy almost 18 years ago in a Bridesburg parish. The Common Pleas Court jury of 10 women and two men hearing the trial of the Rev. Andrew McCormick, 58, announced Wednesday that it was hung. The mistrial came one day shy of a year since the last mistrial. McCormick's face reddened as he heard the foreman respond "no verdict" to each of the five counts against him: involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, child endangerment, corruption of a minor, and indecent assault of a minor under 13. But afterward, the priest of 33 years seemed upbeat, wishing court staff a happy Easter as he signed a subpoena to appear at an April 10 hearing.
February 19, 2015 |
A COURTROOM rumble erupted yesterday afternoon after an Overbrook man, convicted of murder in a 2013 robbery of a special-needs man for his headphones, cursed at a deputy sheriff. The two got physical, prompting cops to jump in from the gallery to control the chaos. The brawl happened after Arkel Garcia, 21, was convicted by a jury of second-degree murder, robbery and a firearms offense. After the jury of 10 women and two men was escorted out, Common Pleas Judge Steven Geroff proceeded to sentence Garcia, who faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole in the death of Christian Massey, 21, a West Philly native who graduated from Marple Newtown High School.
February 14, 2015 |
In a verdict likely to challenge Pennsylvania's law defining a "weapon of mass destruction," a Philadelphia jury Thursday found a Germantown artist guilty of that crime in a May incident in which he blew off most of his right hand with a homemade explosive. The Common Pleas Court jury of 10 women and two men deliberated about 21/2 hours before returning the verdict against Douglas Ferrin, 55. Ferrin, who spent about six months in prison for blowing up the toilet in a Phoenixville bar in 2011, did not appear to react to the verdict.
January 22, 2015 |
PHILLY'S ONCE high-flying Don Tollefson was hauled away in handcuffs yesterday after a Bucks County jury found him guilty of theft, fraud and deception for fleecing hundreds of people out of phony sports-travel packages. After the verdict was read, Tollefson was remanded to prison, where he is being held on $350,000 bail. Escorted from court by four sheriff's deputies, Tollefson asked the media to respect his family's privacy. "I'll continue to work to be sober and a better person in any way I can, wherever I am," he said.
January 14, 2015 |
A JURY YESTERDAY convicted a 25-year-old South Philly man of first-degree murder and related offenses in the 2012 shooting death of another man in a Walgreens parking lot in front of the victim's 5-year-old son. Jahmir Harris was then sentenced by Common Pleas Judge Rose Marie DeFino-Nastasi to a mandatory term of life in prison. Harris chose not to say anything to the judge before he was sentenced. The jury found that about 8:15 p.m. Dec. 23, 2012, Harris was the gunman who exited the driver's side of a car in the Walgreens parking lot on Oregon Avenue near 23rd Street and unleashed 17 shots toward Louis Porter, 45, who had just parked his car in the lot and exited his vehicle.
December 11, 2014 |
The woman who fatally stabbed former University of Pennsylvania basketball star Matt White - his wife of 25 years - was found guilty but mentally ill Tuesday of voluntary manslaughter. Delaware County Court Judge Kevin Kelly, who presided at the nonjury trial, scheduled a February sentencing for Maria Garcia-Pellon, 54. "It's an appropriate verdict," said Thomas Bergstrom, attorney for Garcia-Pellon, who also was found guilty but mentally ill on a weapons count. Early on Feb. 11, 2013, Garcia-Pellon killed her husband as he lay sleeping in their Nether Providence Township home.