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Archive: March, 2012

POSTED: Tuesday, March 27, 2012, 1:27 PM

After two months of weighing his options, Caesar Holloway has rejected a guilty-plea deal from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office and will be tried for his alleged role in the 2009 drug-related killings of two people at the Piazza at Schmidts development in Northern Liberties.

Today, Assistant District Attorney Carlos Vega and defense attorney Donald Chisholm II confirmed that Holloway, 35, rejected the plea offer. The two lawyers and Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey P. Minehart are to decide on a trial date Wednesday.

Holloway is the last of eight people charged in the June 27, 2009 slayings of event planner Rian Thal, 34, and friend Timothy Gilmore, 40, and faces life in prison without chance of parole if the jury finds him guilty of felony murder. Although not among the gunmen who killed the two in what prosecutors called a botched drug robbery, under the law of conspiracy Holloway is liable for the worst act committed by any other conspirator.

JOSEPH SLOBODZIAN @ 1:27 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, March 26, 2012, 6:58 PM

“First of all, this is not television.”

With those words, Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina ended her orientation for 20 jurors – 9 women and 11 men – who Monday began hearing what could be up to three months of testimony in the trial of a church official and priest involving the clergy sex-abuse scandal in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Not television? That’s an understatement.

JOSEPH SLOBODZIAN @ 6:58 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, March 22, 2012, 4:47 PM

It’s been almost three years since a Kensington crowd jumped Michael Zenquis as he walked on Argyle Street and pummeled him into the sidewalk believing he was the man who had raped an 11-year-old girl from the neighborhood.

Fortunately for Zenquis, now 29, he was cleared shortly after he was released from the hospital because his DNA did not match. Also, the next day, June 2, 2009, another Kensington crowd trapped and beat up Jose Carrasquillo, who was later charged – and pleaded guilty -- to the rape of the 11-year-old and the attempt assault of a 16-year-old who escape his pursuit.

Though not charged, Zenquis is still seeking justice in the form of his federal civil rights lawsuit against the City of Philadelphia and the police. The suit alleges that police investigating the child’s rape instigated Zenquis’ beating by circulating his photo in Kensington, telling people he was the suspected rapist and suggesting that citizens should use any means necessary to detain him until police arrived.

JOSEPH SLOBODZIAN @ 4:47 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, March 20, 2012, 3:59 PM

Psychiatric hospitals are where people with profound mental illness are often sent to prevent them from hurting themselves or other people while they get care.

It doesn’t always work out that way.

On Tuesday, Bryant Sheard, 18, of Holmesburg, was ordered to stand trial for murder in the Nov. 30 strangulation death of roommate Anthony Bailey, 23, of Olney, in their room at Belmont Behavioral Health, on the 4200 block of Monument Road in the city's West Park section.

JOSEPH SLOBODZIAN @ 3:59 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, March 12, 2012, 4:19 PM

The last of eight people charged in the 2009 double murder at the then-new Piazza at Schmidts development in Northern Liberties is scheduled to go to trial on murder and conspiracy on March 27 in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court.

Or not.

For the last month, Caesar Holloway, 35, and his lawyer Donald Chisholm II have been trying to negotiate a “non-trial disposition” – a plea bargain -- that would put Holloway in prison for some length of time other than the rest of his natural life.

JOSEPH SLOBODZIAN @ 4:19 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, March 6, 2012, 4:27 PM

Criminals have nicknames, as everyone knows. It’s almost part of the job description. Al Capone? Could be a barber. “Scarface” Al Capone? Couldn’t be a barber, at least not one you’d want to go to for a shave.

So it came to pass during Monday’s interview of William Barnes -- the recently paroled admitted shooter of Philadelphia police Officer Walter T. Barclay -- that the question arose: William “Cowboy” Barnes?

Barnes, 75, said he had nothing to do with it. It was awarded him during the 1960s by an anonymous writer for the Philadelphia Daily News, commenting on Barnes’ then-Old West-style disdain for the law.

JOSEPH SLOBODZIAN @ 4:27 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

Joseph A. Slobodzian
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