Friend says alleged cop killer confessed with a 'bang'

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Rafael Jones (left) was one of two men charged in the 2012 robbery and slaying of Philadelphia Police Officer Moses Walker (right).

Maurice Gibbs said he was playing cards with friends outside a Bartram Village apartment on Aug. 20, 2012, when a childhood friend, Rafael Jones, walked up.

Gibbs said the only thing more surprising than seeing a friend he had not seen in almost seven years was what Jones said after drawing him aside: that he had killed a police officer.

"Did you see or hear anything about a cop killing on the news?" Gibbs said Jones asked him.

"I said, 'No, I don't watch TV,' " Gibbs said.

"Bang! You should have seen it. It was me," Jones said, according to Gibbs.

Gibbs, 21, testified Tuesday in the murder-robbery trial of Jones, 25, accused of killing Philadelphia Police Officer Moses Walker shortly before 6 a.m. on Aug. 18, 2012. The officer, who had just finished his shift at North Philadelphia's 22d District, was walking to a bus stop when he was gunned down.

The nonjury trial begins its third day Wednesday before Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey P. Minehart with testimony expected from Jones' alleged accomplice, Chancier McFarland.

McFarland, 21, pleaded guilty to third-degree murder in June in a deal that lets him escape life in prison - he will have to serve 20 to 40 years - if he testifies truthfully for the prosecution in Jones' trial.

Questioned by Assistant District Attorney Jude Conroy, Gibbs proved an unflappable witness, answering questions with quiet, simple phrases. He did not become angry during cross-examination by defense attorney Michael Coard.

Gibbs said he was stunned by Jones' disclosure and called him a liar.

Jones, however, insisted it was true, Gibbs testified. Gibbs said Jones told him he had just got out of prison and needed money. Jones said he and another man he called "Mook" spotted Walker and tailed him along Cecil B. Moore Avenue planning to rob him.

Near 20th Street, when they confronted Walker, who was in plain clothes, Jones said, Walker turned to run and then reached for a gun.

Gibbs testified that Jones said, "I didn't know he was a cop, but he started running and reaching, so I shot him three times."

Jones had served almost four years in prison for a 2008 gun conviction. After being released on state parole and rearrested in a robbery, Jones was held in city prisons until he was released Aug. 8, 2012 - less than two weeks before Walker's slaying - after the victim failed to appear to testify.

Jones was arrested Aug. 22, 2012, at Gibbs' apartment.

Gibbs, who is prison on a 21/2- to 5-year sentence after pleading guilty last year to robbery and conspiracy charges in an unrelated city crime, testified that Jones threatened to have him and his family killed if they told authorities about his whereabouts or his alleged confession.

After Jones' arrest, Gibbs said, he came forward and told homicide detectives what he knew.

Conroy said that Gibbs was serving his sentence in an undisclosed prison and that Gibbs' family had been relocated by the District Attorney's Office.

 


jslobodzian@phillynews.com

215-854-2985 @joeslobo