Wednesday, September 2, 2015

POSTED: Wednesday, July 1, 2015, 4:35 PM
Msgr. William J. Lynn leaves the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia on Jan. 6. (ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ/Staff Photographer)

Word that Pope Francis will visit Philadelphia’s Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility when he is in the city Sept. 26-27 for the World Meeting of Families must have held special significance for one of the 2,760 men in the city’s largest jail.

He’s No. 1102886, also known as Msgr. William J. Lynn, the 64-year-old former Secretary for Clergy of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Lynn was the first church official convicted for a supervisory role over priests accused of having sexually abused children. Lynn’s conviction was a landmark in the church’s clergy sex-abuse scandal and his appeal of his child endangerment conviction has been a legal roller coaster.

Joe Slobodzian @ 4:35 PM  Permalink |
POSTED: Wednesday, June 24, 2015, 2:28 PM

The justice system often resolves the unanswered questions when someone is charged with a crime. And some cases start out murky and just get murkier.

Consider former Philadelphia cop David Wade Howard, a man with a colorful past who was charged on March 26 with witness intimidation and terroristic threats in connection with the slaying of William Blount on Easter morning in 2014.

Now, Blount’s girlfriend, 38-year-old Alisa Davis, had already been charged with murder for shooting Blount, 49, whose body was found at 8:07 a.m., April 20, 2014, in his bullet-riddled 2000 Plymouth Voyager outside Davis’ home on 18th Street in the city’s Tioga section.

Joe Slobodzian @ 2:28 PM  Permalink |
POSTED: Monday, June 8, 2015, 12:47 PM

The prosecutor called it a dispute between two groups of neighborhood kids that began in elementary school and just kept going.

On Sept. 7, 2012, it took the life of 17-year-old Paris Talbert as he sat talking to a friend on a bench outside the Finley Recreation Center on East Hortter Street in East Mount Airy.

On Friday, it led to a life prison sentence without parole for his then-19-year-old killer, Saleem Snead, after a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court jury found Snead guilty of first-degree murder. The verdict carries a mandatory life prison term and Judge J. Scott O’Keefe immediately imposed the sentence.

Joe Slobodzian @ 12:47 PM  Permalink |
POSTED: Friday, May 22, 2015, 3:10 PM
Msgr. William J. Lynn leaves the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia on Jan. 6. (ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Staff Photographer)
It’s been three weeks since Msgr. William J. Lynn was sent back to prison after the state Supreme Court reinstated his 2012 conviction and sentence for child endangerment in the Catholic Church priest sex abuse scandal.

For the 64-year-old Lynn, the first church official convicted for a supervisory role over deviant clergy, it’s become a question of waiting behind bars or returning to house arrest while his lawyers continue appealing.

Thomas A. Bergstrom, Lynn’s lawyer, said Friday he plans to visit Lynn on Wednesday to discuss whether he wants to petition the Superior Court to free him on bail pending his new appeals.

Joe Slobodzian @ 3:10 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, May 14, 2015, 2:47 PM

The recent report about inaccurate and erroneous testimony by FBI hair analysts – in 96 percent of cases – continues to draw public interest and concern. Read article:

On Tuesday, the leadership of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform wrote FBI Director James Comey requesting him to provide committee members a briefing by May 22 on the preliminary findings of the ongoing review by the FBI, U.S. Justice Department, Innocence Project of New York and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

“The scope of this catastrophe is almost impossible to believe,” reads the letter signed by committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah) and ranking Democrat Elijah E. Cummings, of Maryland. “Our criminal justice system – and people’s very freedom – relies on the integrity of FBI analysts’ reports and testimony. To learn that the FBI systematically provided erroneous information and biased report results in matters of life and death is shocking and obviously unacceptable.”

Joe Slobodzian @ 2:47 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, April 29, 2015, 12:05 PM
Police say Christopher Murray, 48, confronted his 46-year-old wife, Connie Murray, in Pennypack Park when she went for a jog, then strangled her.

It looks like Christopher Murray, the Northeast man charged with strangling his wife last Aug. 5 along the edge of Pennypack Park, will be pleading guilty.

Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore confirmed the move Wednesday after Murray’s attorneys, Andrea Konow and Roger Schrading, made the request during a pretrial hearing before Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Benjamin Lerner.

Pescatore said the guilty plea would likely take place May 26, Murray’s next pretrial hearing before Lerner.

Joe Slobodzian @ 12:05 PM  Permalink |
POSTED: Friday, April 17, 2015, 4:04 PM

You’ve probably heard of lawyer-client privilege: a lawyer is ethically prohibited from disclosing information learned from a client without the client’s permission.

That’s the abstract definition. In real life, maintaining attorney-client privilege can get messy and rarely does it get more difficult than it did last week for Center City criminal defense lawyer Mary T. Maran.

In 2013, Maran was hired to represent Keith Tolbert, a Center City nursing student who paid the bills by working as a pimp. Tolbert was arrested and charged with murder in the Aug. 26, 2013 death of Francis Zarzycki, 40, a Northeast mortgage broker who had used Tolbert to meet with prostitutes.

Joe Slobodzian @ 4:04 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, April 15, 2015, 2:02 PM

There was a lot of support Tuesday for the family of Alejandro Rojas-Garcia, the 34-year-old man shot to death Jan. 24 as he sat in his new Chevrolet Trailblazer outside a Feltonville after-hours club.

Three of those supporters did not know Rojas-Garcia, son of an official of the Gloucester County NAACP, but all were now related through the shared agony of losing a loved one to violence.

“It’s so important for the public to know about this,” said Rosalind Pichardo, who founded Operation Save Our City after her brother, Alex Martinez, 22, was shot to death during a Jan. 9, 2012 robbery in the 3500 block of North Hutchinson Street in North Philadelphia.

Joe Slobodzian @ 2:02 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
About this blog
Inquirer reporter Joe Slobodzian covers the courts and writes about the people who find themselves there and what they face.

You can reach Slobodzian at 215-854-2985 or Reach Joseph A. at

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