Monday, August 3, 2015

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
POSTED: Thursday, April 9, 2015, 1:41 PM

Is the debate about why the United States imprisons so many people having an impact?

Yes, but slowly, although some states have significantly reduced their prison populations over the last decade, according to a report released Wednesday by The Sentencing Project, the Washington, D.C.-based advocate for sentencing and prison reform.

Nationally, the total U.S. prison population of 2.2 million people has dropped 2.4 percent since 2009 – still no threat to the current U.S. title for imprisoning more of its citizens than any other country. A total of about $80 billion a year in taxpayer money is spent on maintaining inmates and the prisons and personnel who hold them.

Joe Slobodzian @ 1:41 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, January 20, 2015, 3:30 PM
John Hart is going to trial for allegedly stalking CBS3 anchor Erika von Tiehl. She's one of many alleged victims. (Photo illustration)

Maybe it’s all the courtroom dramas on TV that make people think they can act as their own lawyer.

It's certainly not the amateurs’ long list of acquittals.

We’ve seen 62-year-old ex-Philadelphia sportscaster Don Tollefson burning calories as he shuttles between witness box and defense table in Bucks County trying to represent himself against charges he ripped off hundreds who purchased sports event tickets, travel and hotel rooms believing it would benefit what prosecutors say were bogus children’s charities.

Joe Slobodzian @ 3:30 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, December 3, 2014, 4:30 PM

No one will ever associate the word surrender with the name Kermit Barron Gosnell.

What to do if you’re 73 and serving three consecutive life sentences for killing infants born alive during illegal late-term abortions? Take your case to the U.S. Supreme Court, of course.

Not Gosnell's convictions for murder after a sensational 2013 trial in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court. After that verdict – staring at a possible death penalty – the former West Philadelphia abortionist quickly reached an agreement to waive his appeal rights and serve the rest of his life in prison if prosecutors did not press for a death sentence.

Joe Slobodzian @ 4:30 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, December 1, 2014, 4:21 PM
Rafael Jones (left) was one of two men charged in the 2012 robbery and slaying of Philadelphia Police Officer Moses Walker (right).

The alleged killer of Philadelphia Police Officer Moses Walker got a one-week reprieve from the start of a trial that could send him to Pennsylvania’s Death Row.

After a closed-door pretrial conference Monday with Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey P. Minehart, Assistant District Attorneys Jude Conroy and Brian Zarallo and defense attorney Michael Coard agreed that Rafael Jones’ capital trial will begin Monday with jury selection.

Jones, 25, was one of two men charged in the Aug. 18, 2012 robbery and slaying of Walker, 40, a 19-year veteran of the police force. Walker was fatally shot at about 6 a.m. as he walked to a bus stop after finishing his shift as a turnkey in North Philadelphia’s 22d Police District.

Joe Slobodzian @ 4:21 PM  Permalink |
POSTED: Wednesday, October 29, 2014, 5:03 PM
Philadelphia police Officer Gary Cottrell, top, and attorney Michael B. Wolf, bottom, are charged in a scheme to cheat insurance companies. The owner of University Collision in Grays Ferry was also charged. Wolf has pleaded guilty. (Google StreetView)

He fought the charges for more than three years, but suburban lawyer Michael B. Wolf has pleaded guilty to participating in a Philadelphia-based auto insurance fraud scheme.

Wolf, 56, pleaded guilty before Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey P. Minehart on Tuesday – one day before the start of his nonjury trial before the judge.

Wolf pleaded guilty to one count of insurance fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit insurance fraud in a deal negotiated by his attorney, Brian J. McMonagle, and Assistant District Attorney Vicki Markovitz. Minehart accepted the plea and sentenced Wolf to the agreed-on two years probation and a $5,000 civil penalty.

Joe Slobodzian @ 5:03 PM  Permalink |
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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