A North Philadelphia man was ordered to stand trial on murder charges in last September's shooting of a neighborhood man in a purported drug dispute and the attempted murder a month later of another neighbor who was questioned by police.
Tony Tillman was held for court Tuesday after a protracted preliminary hearing in which two witnesses - including the man who was shot six times - tried to recant their statements to police.
A third witness, however, testifying under an agreement with the District Attorney's Office, said he and Tillman had several conversations after the Sept. 18 slaying of Aaron Walker, 34, and the Oct. 8 shooting of Kevin Rideout, 46.
Both were ambushed and shot along Huntingdon Street between Sixth and Seventh Streets.
Roger Pickens, 49, told Municipal Court Judge Teresa Carr Deni that he worked with Tillman, who he said controlled street sales of PCP along Huntingdon between Seventh and Franklin Streets on the outskirts of Fairhill.
Pickens testified that Tillman confided in him and said he killed Walker over a "drug situation, but quite a bit of things that had been building up."
Rideout was "taken care of" - shot, Pickens said Tillman told him, "because he went down and gave a police statement."
Pickens testified calmly about Tillman, 27, and, questioned by Assistant District Attorney Jude Conroy, said he had an agreement that if he testified truthfully about Tillman, Conroy would speak in his behalf at sentencing in an outstanding drug case and would help get him relocated from his old neighborhood.
Pickens said Tillman called Walker's slaying a mistake, but after the killing, he said, Tillman grew increasingly frantic and volatile: "He was upset with everybody. He didn't know who to trust."
Pickens said that after his arrest on drug charges in January, he decided to cooperate against Tillman: "I could have got knocked off if he was upset."
Rideout testified uneasily and denied telling police that Tillman shot Walker. Questioned by defense attorney Richard T. Bobbe III, Rideout insisted he told detectives that he knew his assailants and that they were relatives of Walker. He said they targeted him because he sometimes sold drugs for Tillman and believed he might have been involved in Walker's death.
When Conroy pressed him on his statement to detectives, Rideout replied: "I'm done answering questions. Send me back to jail, please. I don't need no favors, just send me back to jail."