Philadelphia Criminal Law News

December 2011 Archives

Not Quite Cupid's Arrow in Killing of Wife's Boyfriend

It has not been a kind week for cheating couples. Last week, a husband tried to retrieve his wife from her boyfriend’s home and ended up getting shot. This week, prosecutors formally announced that there would be no criminal charges in the case of a boyfriend who went to retrieve his girlfriend from her husband’s home and was killed by a bow and arrow.

On October 9, Tony Bittinger drove nearly 40 miles to his girlfriend’s home threatening “to put a hole in (her husband’s) head,” reports The Associated Press. Bittinger’s blood alcohol level was over twice the legal limit and he showed up at the unidentified husband’s home swinging a 32-inch wooden club.

Tix for Sex: Susan Finkelstein Not Guilty of Prostitution

Two years ago, Phillies' fan Susan Finkelstein placed an ad on Craigslist looking to buy World Series tickets. But Finkelstein wasn't looking to pay with money. Instead, when an undercover cop responded to her ad, Finkelstein allegedly offered to pay with sex.

After her 2010 trial, Finkelstein was convicted of attempted prostitution. The woman appealed, and earlier this week the Superior Court of Pennsylvania overturned the prostitution charge, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Self-Defense in Montgomery County Shooting?

Here is an update on an old saying: don’t bring a bat to a gunfight. Joshua Levin and his son Zachary Levin brought baseball bats to the home of an unidentified Montgomery County man. The homeowner retrieved a gun and told them to back off.

The Levins failed to do so and allegedly threatened the homeowner with the bats. As a result, the homeowner shot them, killing 19-year-old Zachary Levin and wounding 34-year-old Joshua Levin in the Montgomery County shooting, reports the Philadelphia Daily News.

Mike McQueary Testifies at Perjury Hearing

The prosecutor's case in the Penn State perjury trial of former officials Gary Schultz and Tim Curley was off to slow start before it even began. The strength of the prosecutor's case was in question when there were rumors that its star witness, Mike McQueary, would not testify at the hearing.

But McQueary ended up testifying and his testimony was unequivocal, saying that he relayed to the officials "severe sexual acts" between Jerry Sandusky and a ten-year-old boy in the Penn State showers, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer. The exact words conveyed to Curley and Schultz will be very important.

Mike McQueary at Center of Penn State Perjury Trial

Someone is lying in the Penn State perjury case.

Assistant coach Mike McQueary says that he told suspended athletic director Tim Curley and retired university vice president Gary Schultz that he saw a ten-year-old boy being sodomized in the campus gym showers by Jerry Sandusky, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer. Curley and Schultz both deny having such a detailed conversation with McQueary and said they knew nothing about the rape.

Who is not telling the truth?

Jerry Sandusky Waives Preliminary Hearing

A surprising turn of events today: Jerry Sandusky waives preliminary hearing. No one had expected Jerry Sandusky to go ahead with the preliminary hearing, but his attorney, Joe Amendola, insisted for weeks that the former Penn State coach and alleged child molester would proceed with the hearing so that he could at least ascertain the identities of his accusers, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

But at the last minute, Sandusky changed course, deciding not to proceed with the preliminary hearing after all.

So what does this mean for the case and trial ahead?

Defense Strategy for Sandusky Preliminary Hearing

The Jerry Sandusky preliminary hearing is set for tomorrow. A preliminary hearing is probably best described as a "trial before the trial" where Judge Robert E. Scott will decide not whether the defendant is "guilty" or "not guilty," but whether prosecutors have even produced enough evidence to hold a trial.

As the cascade of evidence (and accusers) against Sandusky seemingly grows every day, the preliminary hearing may seem pointless. However, Sandusky's defense attorney Joseph Amendola would be wise to use the preliminary hearing to his advantage. Here's how, as reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer:

DA Will Not Seek Mumia Abu-Jamal Death Penalty

The Mumia Abu-Jamal death penalty will not happen. Despite saying that he could win his case and convince a new jury to sentence Abu-Jamal to death, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said he will not pursue the death penalty given the tortuous legal process and likelihood that the convict will die naturally before the penalty is ever carried out.

In the three decades since his conviction, Mumia Abu-Jamal went from convicted cop killer to celebrity inmate, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer. This decision by the DA will likely take some of the luster from Abu-Jamal's cause for opponents of the death penalty.

Jerry Sandusky Arrested

Here is the headline so many have been waiting for: Jerry Sandusky arrested. He will go to jail. Finally.

Sandusky's arrest follows two new accusers coming forward and alleging that the former Penn State assistant coach sexually molested them when they were boys, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer. With the new charges, came new bail, and when the former coach was unable to pay the $250,000 cash bail amount, he was walked off to Centre County prison.

Tommy Hill Murder: Local Rapper Killed in Robbery

Philadelphia rapper Tommy Hill, formerly of the RAM Squad, was killed in a robbery attempt outside of an East Mount Airy bar. Hill was the only man killed in a shootout between robbers and bar workers, and the suspects in the Tommy Hill murder are still being sought.

On Friday morning, Hill had left the Reuben's Marc bar without paying his tab. As he was outside, the bar manager and bouncer followed him to settle the tab. But before they could get Hill's money, three masked gunmen announced there was a robbery, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer. Bullets went flying and Hill was killed.

Jerry Sandusky Plea Deal?

A Jerry Sandusky plea deal may be in the works. His lawyer, Joe Amendola, allegedly told a newspaper that while Sandusky maintains his innocence, the accused pedophile and disgraced former Penn State coach may consider pleading guilty if more victims come forth.

In an interview, Amendola reportedly acknowledged that the charges against his client are “damning” on the heels of the most recent news — that a ninth victim has come forward and filed a civil lawsuit against Sandusky — says The Philadelphia Inquirer.

50 Occupy Philadelphia Arrests Reported

Police told the Occupy Philadelphia Protesters to clear out. While most of them listened, some protesters lingered and ended up getting arrested. All-in-all, more than 50 Occupy Philadelphia arrests were reported for crimes ranging from conspiracy to failure to disperse.

At about 1:00 a.m. Wednesday morning, the operation to remove the Occupy protesters began as the police tore down tents and closed off streets near City Hall so that the long-planned construction around Dilworth Plaza could commence, reports ABC.