Saleem Evans was just 14 on Nov. 16, 2011 when he and an accomplice lured a man to a Strawberry Mansion street to exact revenge for the kidnapping and robbery of Evans’ dad, a local drug dealer.
Their target, Timothy Hansberry, 25, arrived at 32nd and Cumberland streets about 7:23 p.m. and was promptly executed, struck down by nine to 11 bullets.
Evans, of Huntingdon Street near 32nd, was arrested eight months later. His accomplice has never been identified.
On Monday morning, Evans, now 17, accepted a negotiated guilty plea to third-degree murder and two related crimes and was sentenced to 8 to 16 years in state prison by Common Pleas Judge Genece Brinkley.
Had Evans gone to trial, he could have been convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life without parole.
But prosecutors agreed to the plea deal because there were serious problems with the case. Not over whether Evans killed Hansberry. That’s not in dispute. He did.
The issue was witnesses. Assistant District Attorney Guy D’Andrea said that despite an estimated 30 people having witnessed the killing, not one was willing to give a statement to police.
“This case is a prime example of why people need to come forward when they witness a shooting. We know that there were at least 30 people out there because 30 people called the police that day,” he said.
D’Andrea told Judge Brinkley that had the case been tried, one witness would have testified that Evans told him that he killed Hansberry, while another witness would have put Evans near the scene of the slaying shortly before it happened.
No DNA or fingerprint evidence was recovered nor were the two handguns used, he said.
“This sentence was the appropriate result for everybody,” defense attorney Todd Henry said after leaving the courtroom.
“They certainly had some challenges with their evidence and I think that we had some challenges with ours. But this was the appropriate result due to my client’s age – he was 14 when the incident occurred – and the fact that he was willing to accept his responsibility.”
When given a chance to speak, Evans, who wore a white Muslim skullcap, said, “Sorry for my actions. I learned a lot while I was incarcerated.”
D’Andrea said Evans was motivated to murder Hansberry because he believed he had kidnapped his father, Dennis Evans, two weeks earlier.
Dennis Evans, 34, a known drug supplier in the Strawberry Mansion area, was stuffed in the trunk of a car and robbed of his stash of PCP and a large amount of money, the prosecutor said.
Dennis Evans, who is in federal custody on drug trafficking charges, never reported the kidnapping and robbery to police, D’Andrea said.
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/breaking/20141103_Teen_who_killed_drug-dealer_dad_s_alleged_kidnapper_gets_8_to_16_years_in_prison.html#e7TucrZAErZtQjIc.99