Philadelphia Criminal Law News

March 2011 Archives

Eddie Simmons Gets Jail Time for Threat to Shoot Over Snow

Twenty-six-year-old Eddie Simmons Jr. recently pleaded guilty to what amounted to an extreme act of anger after he found that his car, which he parked in a tow zone on an incredibly snowy night, had disappeared from its spot by the following morning. His rage over incident apparently led him to grab a gun and point it at a Peter Morsa, who was operating a snowblower outside Simmons' Bensalem apartment.

"Somebody had better move this snow or somebody's going to get shot," Simmons threatened to Morsa.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Simmons admitted his actions in Bucks County Court and pleaded guilty to several misdemeanor charges, including terroristic threats, simple assault, and possession of a firearm without a permit.

Police Find Former Radio Host DJ Megatron Dead In New York

Thirty-two year old Corey McGriff, whom many may know as the former Philadelphia radio host DJ Megatron, was recently gunned down and killed in Staten Island, New York. According to Variety Music News, manager Justin Kirkland said the 32-year-old hip hop radio personality and rising television celebrity was allegedly attacked on his way to a store close to his home.

News of the deejay’s passing quickly went viral on the Internet as fans and friends on social networking sites, like Facebook and Twitter, voiced their grief and anger over the loss. The Philadelphia Daily News reported fellow radio hosts also expressed their regret over the murder and shared fond stories about McGriff, whom many considered as the voice of hip hop music.

John Joe Thomas Charged With Stoning Victim For Homosexuality

Upper Darby police arrested Delaware County local John Joe Thomas, 28, and charged him with murder after he beat and stoned 70-year-old Murray Joseph Seidman, who had befriended Thomas and even designated him as the only recipient and executor of his will. Neighbors said the two men would often be seen going to church or grocery shopping together as well.

But court documents revealed that Thomas told police he had "stoned Murray with a rock in a sock" because the elderly man had allegedly made sexual advances to him, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Through a literal interpretation of the Bible's Old Testament, Thomas apparently thought that the appropriate punishment for homosexual acts was stoning.

Mob Attack: Michael Zenquis Wrongly Beaten And Accused Of Rape

An angry mob seeking vigilante justice for the rape of an 11-year-old girl cornered and beat Northeast Philadelphia local Michael Zenquis on a street in Kensington on June 2009, believing he was the rapist. But the mob had wrongly attacked and accused Zenquis, who was actually innocent of the crime.

According to the Philadelphia Daily News, the real offender was Jose Carrasquillo, who was arrested and appeared in national headlines a day later.

"Not only was he beaten up by a bunch of civilians who jumped him out of the clear blue sky, he was also identified as ... a child rapist," said Jonathan Feinberg, Zenquis' attorney. "He was labeled as this monster criminal with no basis whatsoever."

Police Say Walter Meyerle May Be A Serial Sexual Predator

Police officials in Bucks County will likely identify Falls Township resident Walter Meyerle as a serial sexual predator after District Attorney David Heckler said Meyerle would face charges in a number of undisclosed sexual assault cases, most of which involve underage victims and are still under investigation.

So far, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Meyerle, 34, has been accused of repeatedly raping and sexually assaulting a 15-year-old Bristol Township girl. Heckler said Meyerle was charged now so that he could be kept off the street and has also decided to call a news conference to announce the arrest, because there may be other victims who have yet to come out.

Lawrence Peel Pleads Guilty To Shooting Philly Cop

Lawrence Peel, 30, almost killed city police officer Ashley Hoggard when he started firing bullets in a North Philadelphia block in June 2009. Eyewitness accounts and ballistics evidence helped authorities determine that Peel was the person responsible for shooting Hoggard outside the Franchise Sports Bar on Broad Street, according to the Philadelphia Daily News.

Peel, a Berks local, was arrested two days after the shooting and eventually pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated assault, two counts of assault on a police officer, and four handgun counts. After his open guilty plea, Peel's criminal defense attorney John P. Ruthkowski and the District Attorney's Office have yet to agree on a sentence for the defendant.

Priest James Brennan's Attorney Says Accuser Has Issues

Catholic priest James Brennan, 47, was charged in February with raping young altar boys during the 1990s. But his defense attorney, Richard DeSipio, said he will argue at a hearing this week that his client receive a preliminary hearing so he can cross-examine his only accuser, who is now 29-years-old.

According to the Philadelphia Daily News, DeSipio alleged that Brennan's accuser has two criminal convictions, a number of aliases, and is behind bars for charges involving theft. "A witness must give legally competent evidence, and I don't think he can do that. Their witness is in prison in Bucks County for stealing his sister's credit card and using it. He's a convicted liar," contended Desipio.

Serial Rapist Domenique Wilson Receives Up To 230 Years In Prison

A Philadelphia jury found 25-year-old Domenique Wilson guilty of burglary, robbery, and a series of rapes he committed in late 2008 in Lock Haven. Common Pleas Court Judge Charles J. Cunningham III referred to Wilson as a “serial rapist” and sentenced him with 84 to 230 years in prison to ensure that “there is never a day when he is out.”

A jury in November had found Wilson guilty of rape charges and other offenses in two assaults that occurred in Philadelphia. However, he had already been serving a life term behind bars for raping and sexually assaulting three women from Lock Haven University in February 2009, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Philadelphia Archdiocese Puts Priests On Leave For Child Sex Abuse

Two lawsuits have been filed since February against the Philadelphia Catholic Archdiocese alleging that it concealed sexual abuse committed by priests during the 1990s. And this week, although 37 priests have been identified as allegedly behaving inappropriately with children, a grand jury said it found "substantial evidence" of sexual abuse with minors for about 20 priests.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the grand jury reported the archdiocese had overlooked credible allegations of sexual abuse on insubstantial pretexts based on the files the jury examined. "We understand that accusations are not proof, but we just cannot understand the Archdiocese's apparent absence of any sense of urgency," wrote the grand jury.

Three Of Kermit Gosnell's Employees Face Death Penalty

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported three of Doctor Kermit Gosnell's former employees from his West Philadelphia abortion office could face a potential death penalty sentence just like their employer.

City prosecutors alleged that Lynda Williams, 42, from Wilmington; Steven Massof, 48, from Pittsburg; and Adrienne Moton, 33, from Upper Darby assisted Gosnell in seven abortions where the infants were born live and then killed by the 70-year-old physician.

Prosecuting attorneys said they had also agreed with the defense in extending the three employees' deadline to be notified about whether death by legal injection would be possible in their case. Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore said the 60-day delay would help provide more time for both sides to further examine the case.

Philadelphia Police Use Social Media To Find Potential Suspects

While ideas of social media innovation are sometimes related to social networking sites like Twitter, not many people may realize that law enforcement agencies also innovate by using them as a new tool to gain cooperation and information from the community. According to The Social Graf, the Philadelphia Police Department has utilized social media to release a new crime-fighting project called "Video Villains."

"Video Villains" serves as a kind of online "most wanted list" that includes video footage of perpetrators caught in the act of a crime, including those that involve violence or property. The Philly PD may post a range of things from videos on YouTube and still shots on Flicker to updates on Facebook, Twitter, or their own Philadelphia Police website.