A Southwest Philadelphia man pleaded guilty to third-degree murder Wednesday for the 2013 shooting of a man who refused to give up his backpack in a robbery.
In addition to murder, Tyreek McNeil, 23, pleaded guilty before a Philadelphia judge to two counts of robbery and firearms charges in the Sept. 26, 2013, slaying of Jose Aparicio Jeronimo.
Aparicio, 22, the father of a 7-month-old son and four stepchildren, had emigrated from Mexico eight years earlier and worked at the Public House, a Center City bar.
According to Assistant District Attorney Gwenn Cujdik, shortly before 4 a.m. on Sept. 26, 2013, Aparicio and a cousin, Melquidas Moreno Allende, stopped to visit Aparicio's brother, Samuel Aparicio Perez, at his bakery on South Ninth Street in South Philadelphia.
After the visit, Aparicio and Moreno were talking outside at Eighth and Watkins Streets when a gunman rode up on a bicycle and ordered them to surrender their valuables.
Cujdik said the gunman took Moreno's cash and a cellphone. When Aparicio refused to hand over his backpack, a struggle ensued. The gunman shot him three times and rode off with the backpack and valuables.
Police found the bike abandoned, and a fingerprint on it led to a Southwest Philadelphia man named Jahmir Carney.
Carney, 19, had an alibi: He was home with his mother and brother at the time of the slaying.
But Carney also told police the bicycle was shared in his neighborhood and one of the people who used it was McNeil. Carney said that several days after the robbery and killing, McNeil admitted he was the gunman and said he was relieved because police did not have enough of a description of the gunman to identify him.
McNeil faced a mandatory prison sentence of life without parole had he gone to trial and been convicted of first- or second-degree murder.
He faces a prison term of 20 to 40 years on the third-degree murder count, although Common Pleas Court Judge Benjamin Lerner told him the sentence would depend on his agreement to continue talking with the District Attorney's Office. Lawyers would not disclose the subject of the talks.
Lerner set sentencing for Aug. 5.