Philadelphia Criminal Law News

April 2011 Archives

Police Search For Edward Gause After Alleged Killing

Philadelphia police recently issued an arrest warrant for a handyman accused of killing an elderly neighbor of Mayor Michael Nutter last November. The Philadelphia Daily News reported 43-year-old Edward Gause allegedly beat 76-year-old Robert Lancaster to death inside the victim's home on 50th Street in Wynnefield.

Homicide Detective Ed Rocks said Gause was an expert handyman who had worked on some renovations on Lancaster's home and investigators apparently believe that the fatal slaying began after a dispute about Gause's payment for the work he had done.

Mumia Abu-Jamal Gets New Sentencing Hearing

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals recently awarded death row convict Mumia Abu-Jamal a new sentencing hearing after ruling that the jury instructions at his original murder trial in 1982 were not clear. Abu-Jamal's attorneys said the decision of the Third Circuit confirmed a "constitutional" mistake in his sentencing.

The decision, however, does not grant Abu-Jamal a new trial on the murder charge or alter his conviction. Yet an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court will likely be the next move for the district attorney, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Grand Jury Indicts Dharun Ravi For Tyler Clement's Suicide

In the case involving the suicide of 18-year-old Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi, a grand jury in Middlesex County Court in New Jersey has accused his former roommate Dharun Ravi, 19, of covering up the live video he posted on the internet revealing Clementi's romantic encounter with another young man.

As many Philadelphia residents may have heard, Clementi jumped off the George Washington Bridge last year after Ravi and another Rutgers student, 19-year-old Molly Wei, spied on him with a webcam hidden in their dormitory room. The pair had streamed the video live online, but the grand jury's 15-count indictment alleges Ravi had tried to delete the post on his Twitter promoting the video.

Francis Murphy Arrested For Soliciting Sex From Former Student

Authorities reported that the athletic director and coach at Archbishop Carroll High School in Radnor Township was arrested for allegedly seeking sexual favors from a former male student. Bryn Mawr resident Francis Murphy, 39, had supposedly solicited sex from the victim, an 11th grader, in exchange for gifts.

Murphy was arrested in Bridgeport at the Frosty Falls Ice Cream shop, where he had planned to meet the victim for sex, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Law enforcement officials charged Murphy, who worked for the school since 1999, with promoting prostitution, attempted corruption of minors, and unlawful contact with a minor.

Philadelphia Judge Imposes Gag Order in Kermit Gosnell Case

In the case involving 70-year-old accused former doctor Kermit Gosnell, Common Pleas Court Judge Benjamin Lerner imposed a gag order on prosecution and defense lawyers after both a dispute between the parties and a more routine scheduling hearing.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Lerner issued the order after the discussion in court over why prosecutors had investigated the prison cell of 50-year-old Pearl Gosnell, the doctor’s wife, after Lerner had released her on bail.

“What happens in open court is one thing, but I don’t want the case tried outside the courtroom,” Lerner told the defense attorneys.

Fatal Shooting In Chester County Kills 2 And Injures 8

Philadelphia Daily News reported a fatal shooting during a birthday party at Minaret Temple No. 174 in Chester County occurred over the weekend just after Chester police had announced that they had solved last summer's homicide crime, which had kept the city in a state of emergency for a month.

Police arrested three partygoers from the shooting, although none were officially charged for the crime as authorities examined the firearms and determined who fired the shots. Nineteen-year-old Carlisha Coleman, who threw the party, was among those arrested and faces potential charges of risking a catastrophe, resisting arrest, and other related offenses, according to ABC News.

Albert Florence's Strip-Search Case Reaches Supreme Court

Bordertown local Albert Florence, 35, was arrested and spent 7 days in jail in 2005 for a supposed outstanding traffic fine he had already paid. But according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Florence was more concerned with the fact he was ordered to strip naked and was searched twice after he was sent to both the Burlington County and the Essex County jailhouses.

“It was horrible. I can even remember looking at a couple of the officers and one of them had a grin on his face … It’s disgusting, really disgusting,” said Florence. He recalled the officers lining up the men four at a time, telling each person to spread his arms apart, turn around, squat down, lift his genitals, and then cough.

Philadelphia Rape Suspect Christopher Reeves Gets Arrested

The Philadelphia Daily News reported police officials recently arrested 32-year-old Christopher Reeves, who was wanted in the rape of a 29-year-old barista. The victim was working at a South Philadelphia café when Reeves allegedly attacked her, and authorities had offered a $6,500 reward for his arrest.

Police said several customers, including Reeves, had come into the Bean Exchange Coffee House on Bainbridge Street after the 29-year-old opened the shop on the day of the attack. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, officials said Reeves had entered the shop, left, and later returned when the barista was alone.