Deliberations continue

The Philadelphia Common Pleas Court jury continues deliberating in the trial of Edward Wilson, the West Philadelphia man who killed his ex-girlfriend in 2009 and then blew off his face with a shotgun in a failed suicide.

The jury of six men and six women has been working since about 9:40 a.m. today after 90 minutes of deliberations late Thursday.

They’ve come back twice with questions. This morning the jury asked to see a demonstration of how Wilson’s 12-gauge single-barrel shotgun worked – a police SWAT team member did so in court, sans ammo – apparently so the jury could be determine if the long gun was automatic or single-shot manual.

At about 2:25 p.m. they returned to the Criminal Justice Center courtroom to ask Judge Rose Marie DeFino-Nastasi to explain the differences among the three types of homicide they must decide on: first-degree, a premeditated malicious killing; third-degree, a purposeful assault that results in an unintended death; or voluntary manslaughter, the killing of someone in high emotion.

The jurors also asked the judge what would happen if they could not reach a unanimous decision. DeFino-Nastasi reminded them that Wilson’s attorney had conceded that he shot ex-girlfriend Antoinette Austin.

As for the possibility of a hung jury, the judge told the jury: “You’re nowhere near that yet.”

Wilson, 57, is charged with shooting and killing Austin, 26, on March 18, 2009, about six months after he had a stroke and she ended their eight-year relationship.

Defense attorney Thomas Burke has argued that Wilson should be found guilty of voluntary manslaughter, saying, “He was in love with her and he was crazy because she was gone and she was not coming back.”

Assistant District Attorney James Berardinelli has argued that voluntary manslaughter does not apply because Wilson shot Austin almost six months after she left him, after he lured her into his car with a $10,000 check.

Austin was found dying on the edge of the golf course in Cobbs Creek Park, in the 7500 block of Lansdowne Avenue. With her last words to a police officer, Austin named Wilson as the shooter and pointed them to his house in the first block of North Salford Avenue.

The check, which would have bounced, was later found in Austin’s wallet.

Berardinelli added that Wilson tried to cover his tracks after he left Austin, calling her job to ask if she was there and later lying to a police negotiator after he barricaded himself in his house.

After holding police outside almost two hours, Wilson shot himself in the face with the same shotgun he killed Austin.

The blast obliterated Wilson’s face below the eyes but he lived to go to trial, his face rebuilt by surgeons to give him a semblance of a nose, cheeks and lower jaw.

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