Philadelphia Criminal Law News

January 2011 Archives

Michael Rausch Avoids Prison After Punching John Fisher Three Times

Some Philadelphians may have heard about New Jersey lawyer Michael Rausch, who punched an opposing counsel in the stairwell of the Lackawanna County Courthouse last summer. Rausch, a 46-year-old local from Cherry Hill, was subsequently charged with harassment, simple assault, and disorderly conduct after punching attorney John Fisher in the head three times.

Fisher had brought a product-liability lawsuit against luxury car maker Porsche, whom Rausch was representing. A verbal altercation later developed between the two at the courthouse’s stairwell after a hearing on the case. The Times-Tribune reported the exchange quickly turned into a physical conflict where Rausch ultimately lost his temper, knocking Fisher in the face.

Two Teens Charged With Murder Blame The Other For The Crime

India Spellman, 17, and Von Combs, 14, were held over for trial and charged with murder for allegedly killing Cedarbrook local and World War II veteran George Greaves. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the two teens shot 87-year-old Greaves to death last August while he was working on his front lawn.

The teenagers' statements during a preliminary hearing in Municipal Court, which was heard by Judge Teresa Carr Deni, revealed that each defendant accused the other of shooting Greaves. Spellman claimed Combs had asked for her gun before he walked over to the elderly victim and demanded money. Greaves refused and pushed Combs, which supposedly led the 14-year-old to shoot the victim in the chest.

Mark Henderson Sentenced To Prison For Criminal Contempt Of Court

Common Pleas Court Judge Renee Cardwell Hughes cited Wilmington resident Mark Henderson, 26, for contempt of court for witness intimidation after Henderson was caught taking five photos in a Philadelphia courtroom. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Henderson claimed he was innocent and said he only wanted to take a picture of his friend Kevin Weaver, who was sentenced to 22.5 to 52 years in prison for murder charges.

"The gray hairs I have mean that I wasn't born yesterday," replied Hughes. "I don't believe you."

Cathy Marrero Faces Sentence For Using Coworker's Credit Cards

Many Philadelphians may have heard about Cathy Cruz Marrero, the woman who accidentally fell into a Berkshire Mall Fountain in Wyomissing while texting. According to ABC News, Marrero has also been in court for criminal charges involving five felony counts for theft by deception and receiving stolen property.

Marrero, 49, reportedly used the credit cards of her coworker Ileana Rivera and spent over $5,000 for purchases made at Target and a Zales Jewelry store. The 49-year-old allegedly spent $4,117 at Zales and made an additional $1,055 in purchases at Target in August 2007.

Abortion Doctor Kermitt Gosnell Accused Of Murder

Abortion doctor Kermitt Gosnell, 69, and nine of his associates were charged with eight counts of murder after a year-long investigation was completed by a grand jury, according to Reuters. Gosnell allegedly used scissors to cut the spinal cords of hundreds of infants after removing them from the womb late in their mothers’ pregnancies, resulting in the deaths of a number of babies.

Kermitt Gosnell operated his West Philadelphia clinic between 1979 and 2010. Gosnell charged his clients, most of whom were poor, $325 for a first-trimester abortion and around $1,625 to $3,000 for illegal abortions that were done after 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Could Antonio Rodriguez Be The Kensington Strangler?

Authorities reported a state police DNA database recently identified Antonio Rodriguez, 22, as the alleged Kensington Strangler. Law enforcement officials have arrested and held him under police custody on outstanding bench warrants. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, detectives will take one more DNA sample to see whether Rodriguez is really connected to the series of murder cases in Kensington.

"We believe we have this killer off the street," said Homicide Captain James Clark.

Court Struggles To Communicate With Juan Jose Gonzalez Luna

Juan Jose Gonzalez Luna, 42, was charged with drug trafficking after allegedly transporting a shipment of cocaine in his car from Las Vegas, Nevada to the Philadelphia area, reported the Philadelphia Inquirer. But the deaf, mute, and illiterate suspect has stretched the limits of Montgomery County Court's abilities to ensure due process as it attempts to use relay interpreting to communicate with Luna.

With relay interpreting, one court interpreter translates what is said into American Sign Language while a second interpreter tries to pantomime the ASL in a way that may be easily understood by Luna. For instance, an interpreter mimed the motion of banging a judge's gravel and pointed his other hand towards to ceiling to convey that Luna's case was going to be heard at a higher-level court.

Kadeem Cook Sentenced To Prison For Robbery

After committing a series of robberies in October 2009, 19-year-old Kadeem Cook decided to take a picture of himself with a cell phone he had stolen from a 22-year-old woman at the Fern Rock Transportation Center. Eager to use the phone, he photographed himself holding a BB gun to his head.

Unbeknown to Cook, the victim had originally programmed the phone to send pictures to her computer. Needless to say, the Philadelphia Daily News reported that the photo helped the victim identify Cook as her thief.

Convicted Murderers Reject Option of Life In Prison

Philadelphia Judge Renee Cardwell Hughes gave two Northeast Philadelphia men convicted of murder an opportunity to have the sentence of life in prison without parole as an alternative to capital punishment. According to the Philadelphia Daily News, Hughes told defendants Gerald Drummond, 26, and Robert McDowell, 28, that she would do away with the death penalty in their case if both men gave up their appellate rights.

A defendant asks a higher court to look over particular aspects of a case for any legal error that may have affected a jury's decision or the sentence when he or she appeals a case. If Drummond and McDowell were to give up their right to an appeal, both men would then lost the option of having their case potentially dismissed, re-tried, or re-sentenced.

Tanya Williams Charged For Allegedly Murdering Infant Son

Thirty- two- year- old Tanya Williams was charged with murder after her two-month-old son Quasir Alexander was found starved to death at a West Philadelphia homeless shelter. Police officials said the infant was brought to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and was pronounced dead on December 23. They said Alexander's death was caused by dehydration and starvation.

Tanya Williams was arrested Friday night and held in police custody without bail, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. She was living with six of her children at the Travelers Aid Family Services shelter, which provides food for residents and a social worker to check in with each family. While it remains unclear how long the family has been at the shelter, sources revealed Williams' five other children are now in foster care.

Christmas Day Shooting By Jealous Ex-Boyfriend

Christmas time is apparently a time that rouses jealously in lovers and ex-lovers. Previously, we wrote about Joshua Levin, who was shot when he confronted the husband of his girlfriend, resulting in the death of Levin’s son.

Last week, on Christmas Day, Rayshon Carwheel allegedly shot and killed Robens Borno in a Cheltenham Township home supposedly due to Borno’s relationship with Carwheel’s ex-girlfriend, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.