Saturday, April 19, 2014
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Police arrest woman in killing of ex-Kingfish guitarist

One co-conspirator is in custody on unrelated charges, and police are looking for three others in the Dec. 28 murder of Danny DeGennaro, authorities said.

Police arrest woman in killing of ex-Kingfish guitarist

A 17-year-old Morrisville woman was charged Tuesday with the murder of Bristol Township musician Danny DeGennaro, and authorities said they are pursuing three of her four co-conspirators in the botched robbery.

A tip from a neighbor of the well known guitar player and songwriter who performed with Kingfish other big-name rock and rhythm-and-blues musicians helped police identify the murder suspects, Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler said.

“We know who you are, and we are coming,” Heckler said about the three co-conspirators following the arraignment for Danasia Ameena Bakr of Plaza Boulevard.

The fourth co-conspirator is in custody on unrelated charges, Heckler said. He declined to name any of the suspects, including the man who shot DeGennaro, 56, once in the chest with a shotgun on Dec. 28.

The suspects targeted DeGennaro’s house on Crabtree Drive in Levittown as a place they could “get money,” authorities said, based on information from Bakr.

Authorities could not say whether the suspects knew DeGennaro or had been to the house before that night.

To draw DeGennaro out of his house and rob him, one of the suspects called the phone number on a “for sale” sign on a 2007 black Volkswagen Jetta parked in his back yard, Assistant District Attorney Matt Weintraub said.

But the car and the cell phone number belonged to a neighbor, Nick Wilson, who told police about the suspicious call after the murder, according to the affidavit of probable cause.

According to the affidavit and authorities:

The suspects drove two cars from Trenton and called Wilson and each other while in DeGennaro’s neighborhood. Cell phone records led police to two suspects and then to Bakr, who waited in her 2002 green Lincoln while her co-conspirators entered DeGennaro’s house.

Bakr, who admitted her role in the plot, heard a loud gunshot and a second shot. Two of her co-conspirators got into her car and took off gloves. One of the men said he “had to do it.”

Police found DeGennaro unresponsive in his foyer with a single shotgun wound in his chest and a 9mm shell casing on the floor. A 9mm slug was found in the kitchen baseboard, but no weapons were recovered.

DeGennaro was pronounced dead at St. Mary Medical Center.

Traveling in two cars, the suspects returned to Trenton that night. Days later, they met up and discussed the murder, their roles and covering up their identities.

At her arraignment before District Justice Robert Wagner Jr., Bakr pleaded not guilty to criminal conspiracy to commit homicide, robbery and burglary, and possession of the shotgun and handgun. Those charges include commission of the principal offenses, Heckler said, including first-degree murder, which can carry the death penalty. Heckler said he would determine the penalties his office will seek once all the suspects are in custody.

Bakr, who will be tried as an adult, was not eligible for bail because of the murder charge. Her lawyer, Peter Greiner, asked that she be held in a facility for juveniles, but Bristol Township Detective Greg Beidler said that Bakr will turn 18 next month, and the district justice ordered her taken to county prison until her March 20 preliminary hearing.

After the arraignment, Linda DeGennaro said she still can’t believe her brother is gone.

“This is all a shock to me,” she said. “It’s so senseless. He was getting his life back together. He didn’t deserve this.”

Weintraub, the assistant district attorney, said DeGennaro’s daughter and other family members were “relieved and gratified” that police had made an arrest. “They’re steeling themselves for the long haul—it’s going to be a marathon.”

His daughter, Gia DeGennaro, 27, a teacher in the Council Rock School District, declined to comment.

Her father was known for his dazzling guitar skills and soulful songs. He was a star on the local music scene, forming a band with Hooters’ founder Dave Uosikkinen.

He toured the country and the world with big-name performers including Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir; Clarence Clemons, an original member of the E Street Band; keyboardist Glenn McClelland, who played with Blood, Sweat and Tears; and bass player Gary Balduzzi, who played with Rita Coolidge and Billy Joel.

But he always returned to Levittown, playing the local clubs. He was rejuvenating his career when he was killed, his manager, Kevin Kerwwn, said last month.

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About this blog
Chris Palmer covers Bucks County for the Philadelphia Inquirer. His previous work has appeared in the New York Times and on several Times blogs, including City Room, the Local East Village and SchoolBook (which has since been taken over by WNYC). Contact him at cpalmer@phillynews.com, 610 313 8212 or on Twitter, @cs_palmer.

Ben Finley covers Bucks County for The Philadelphia Inquirer. He previously worked for The Associated Press, FactCheck.org and the Bucks County Courier Times, where he won more than a dozen journalism awards from organizations including the Education Writers Association, the Society for Features Journalism and the Pennsylvania Bar Association. He grew up in Columbus, Ohio and graduated with honors from The Ohio State University with a degree in journalism. Contact him at bfinley@phillynews.com, 610-313-8118 or on Twitter, @Ben_Finley.

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