He went to prison as a teenager -- a street-corner drug dealer working for a friend’s brother -- convicted for the attempted robbery and murder of a North Philadelphia businessman.
He came out 15 years into a life sentence, a 34-year-old adult married to a woman he had never lived with and into a technological world that left him long behind, through a Philadelphia judge’s ruling that he and his friend were wrongly convicted of the Aug. 31, 1995 slaying of Thomas Keal, 52.
If anyone can attest to the mind-bending twists of life, it’s Eugene Gilyard. And if he and Lance Felder, also 34, are not yet truly free – the District Attorney’s office is re-investigating Keal’s killing and could decide to retry them – the chain linking them to prison is now a lot looser.
Jose Carrasquillo is probably unaware of the influence he’s had.
At the Nov. 30, 2011 hearing where he was sentenced to 30 to 66 years in prison for raping an 11-year-old Kensington girl and the attempted assault of a 16-year-old, Carrasquillo asked for a do-over: he wanted to withdraw his guilty plea and go to trial because he was innocent.
Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Ramy I. Djerassi said no; Carrasquillo was not acting in good faith and was trying to manipulate the justice system. The judge didn’t believe Carrasquillo’s claim that he was the Antichrist and was being framed by federal agents trying to send him to China to assassinate the president.
I wanted to report developments in two cases I’ve been following for some time.
More than four years after 20-year-old Anthony DeMarco was gunned down in a robbery while walking with friends in the 200 block of Jackson Street in South Philadelphia, two men have been found guilty of second-degree murder by a Philadelphia jury.
On Nov. 26, a Common Pleas Court jury convicted Dawud Abdul-Hakim and Kevin Williams in DeMarco’s Oct. 20, 2010 slaying.
I knew Philadelphia Judge Anthony J. DeFino, who died last Sunday in a fire at his South Philadelphia home.
This isn’t a boast or name-dropping. Fact is, anyone who spent any amount of time at the city’s Criminal Justice Center inevitably got to know the 86-year-old retired judge. DeFino worked the courtrooms and hallways of the building at 13th and Filbert Streets like the emcee of a supper club. Sit in a courtroom long enough and you were apt to encounter the dapper ex-jurist, always in a well-tailored suit, and get a raspy-voiced greeting: “Hey-hey, what’s going on?”
DeFino spent more than a half-century in the law and was a lawyer 32 years before he was appointed to the city’s Common Pleas Court in 1988. He retired in 2007 but never left. First, he was appointed by the city courts to work with new judges and in 2009, the newly elected District Attorney Seth Williams hired him as a consultant to help young prosecutors with their craft and be a liaison between the prosecutor’s office and city judges.
Juries are the most unpredictable of human inventions: 12 people put in a room to reach a unanimous conclusion about what happened and whether what happened was a crime -- beyond a reasonable doubt.
Little wonder that verdicts often confound prosecutors and defense lawyers. Sometimes at the same time.
Ask Andrei Govorov.
Joseph A.Slobodzian / Inquirer Staff Writer
The oft-delayed retrial of the Rev. James J. Brennan -- the former Philadelphia Catholic priest charged with attempted rape and child endangerment in an alleged 1996 incident involving a 14-year-old boy – has been delayed once more.
Jury selection was supposed to have begun Monday before Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Robert P. Coleman but defense attorney William J. Brennan Jr. – not related – asked for a continuance for “further investigation.”
Wednesday’s preliminary hearing for Philadelphia Police Sgt. Thomas Winkis has been put off until Dec. 18 to give his new defense lawyer more time to prepare.
Winkis, 44, was charged on Sept. 27 with involuntary manslaughter, homicide by vehicle and drunk driving in the Sept. 14 crash that killed David Farries, 55, of Fishtown.
Winkis remains free after posting 10 percent of $50,000 bail but as late as Tuesday did not have an attorney of record. That situation ended Wednesday when lawyer Fortunato N. Perri Jr., who said earlier he would defend Winkis, formally entered his appearance before Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge David C. Shuter.
A picture is worth a thousand words.
Or, in Humberto Fred’s case, $750,000 – the bail he’s being held on for allegedly snapping a picture of Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Wendy L. Pew while she was on the bench at the city’s Criminal Justice Center.
Fred, 31, was due in Pew’s courtroom 603 on Sept. 17 for his preliminary hearing on charges of receiving stolen property and three counts involving illegally possessing and carrying a gun on the city streets.