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Archive: May, 2012

POSTED: Wednesday, May 30, 2012, 4:47 PM

The Frankford woman accused of setting 10 fires in her neighborhood in April and May will undergo a psychiatric evaluation to see if she is mentally competent to understand and assist in her own defense.

Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Marsha H. Neifield ordered the competency exam Wednesday at what was supposed to have been a preliminary hearing for Noelle Bilbrough, 35.

Neifield scheduled a status check for June 5.

JOSEPH SLOBODZIAN @ 4:47 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, May 17, 2012, 5:59 PM

Are certain people especially vulnerable to being pressured to confess to a crime they did not commit?

Last year a Pennsylvania Superior Court panel said a jury should be allowed to hear the opinion of a psychological expert on this question raised in a Philadelphia homicide case.

On Tuesday the state Supreme Court put that ruling on hold, agreeing to consider an appeal filed by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office contending the Superior Court judges “mischaracterized and misapplied” Supreme Court precedent.

JOSEPH SLOBODZIAN @ 5:59 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, May 15, 2012, 1:25 PM

A Philadelphia judge has ordered three men to stand trial in the Jan. 14 beating death of Temple University graduate Kevin Kless.

But in a victory for the defense, Municipal Court Judge Patrick F. Dugan ruled Monday that the three will be tried on a third-degree murder count instead of a general charge of murder in which the jury would decide the degree.

Kless, 23, accompanied by his girlfriend and another woman, was assaulted about 2:30 a.m. as they tried to hail a cab at Fourth and Chestnut Streets in Old City. Three men who apparently believed Kless was yelling at them got out of their car, and Kless was beaten to death in the altercation that followed.

JOSEPH SLOBODZIAN @ 1:25 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, May 9, 2012, 5:27 PM

A sometime street-corner rapper from North Philadelphia was sentenced Wednesday to 15 to 30 years in prison for his role as the driver in a 2009 drive-by shooting that mistakenly killed a Philadelphia Housing Authority carpenter.

Jamaal Simmons, 28, was found guilty of third-degree murder by a Common Pleas Court jury on Jan. 12 in the July 25, 2009 shooting that mortally wounded Rodney Barnes, a 46-year-old father of four and minister at Mount Airy Church of God in Christ.

The sentence by Judge Carolyn Engel Temin was below the 20- to 40-year maximum for a third-degree murder conviction but also took into account the fact that Simmons was not the triggerman – and has not identified who the gunman was.

JOSEPH SLOBODZIAN @ 5:27 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 jslobodzian@phillynews.com. Reach Joseph A. at jslobodzian@phillynews.com.

Joseph A. Slobodzian
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