A killer went on trial today in Colorado, and here in Philly a killer's trial just came to an end. In the days to come you will hear a lot about the trial of the killer in Colorado, but I would like to tell you a little bit about the trial of our killer here in Philly.
"Living in the Point Breeze section of South Philadelphia, Allen Moment Jr. understood no-snitch culture.
Moment stayed true to the code, even after Jan. 20, 2006, when he was ambushed outside his house on Pierce Street, near 22d, shot a dozen times, and left for dead in his girlfriend's arms.
Two years later, Moment was still alive and still at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. A month in a coma, multiple operations to repair his riddled bowels, and one infection after another had atrophied his muscles. He was a quadriplegic.
Moment lingered until Aug. 6, 2008, when he died of a final drug-resistant infection at age 24. But before he died, Moment finally told his mother and uncle - and police detectives - who had shot him: his cousin Marvin Flamer, now 37; Flamer's nephew Nafeas Flamer, 23; and Nafeas Flamer's friend Hakim Bond, 23.....
Allen Moment lived in an area of South Philadelphia known for corner gangs that settled disputes with guns.
According to Assistant District Attorney Richard Sax, Moment had a problem. He knew and was friends with people from his corner. But the Flamers - his father's extended family - lived near 24th and Ellsworth.
There was bad blood between young men from the two corners, and in early 2006, the fever was up.
Torn between the two groups, Moment tried to play peacemaker. At one point, Sax said during the trial last week, Moment took a gun from Nafeas Flamer. Then someone shot at Flamer and word was that Flamer suspected Moment had "set him up."
Moment sold drugs - court records show he was sentenced to two nine- to 23-month prison terms in 2003 - and on Jan. 20, 2006, he was outside his house when his girlfriend, Aisha Williams, asked him to get crack cocaine for her mother.
According to Williams' trial testimony, Moment said he would deliver the crack to her house, and she turned and began walking away.
"I got to the corner and heard shots, and I thought, he's shooting at somebody or getting shot," Williams said.
Williams said she turned and saw Moment staggering toward her: "I said, 'I thought you got hit.' He said, 'I did. Don't leave me, I don't want to die.' "
Williams did not die, but neither did he get well.
And he would not tell anyone who shot him. He knew, as Sax said, that "Snitches get way more than stitches."
Let me jump in here: Did you read that? Aisha asked him (Mr. Moment) to get crack for her mother. SHE ASKED HIM TO GET CRACK FOR HER MOTHER! Okay, let's read on:
"...Moment's dying declaration was recorded Feb. 14, 2008. Though he lived almost six months more, Moment had already received the grim news from HUP surgeon Carrie Sims. He was dying, Sims said. An infection resistant to all drugs could not be stopped.
The video shows Moment propped up in bed, a large tube attached to his nose. He barely opens his eyes. He nods or blinks as a detective shows photos and asks him to confirm his identifications. Only once does he struggle to rasp aloud a reply.
It wasn't much - maybe three minutes - but Sax needed all the evidence he could get because the intimidation and threats did not end when Moment died.
Two years later, shortly before the start of the trial of the Flamers and Bond, Abdul Taylor was killed.
Taylor, 32, a former high school basketball star and popular Kingsessing recreation center coach, came on the scene right after Moment was gunned down.
He did not see the shooters, but Taylor knew many young men from the basketball courts. He kept his ears open and learned enough to become a key witness against Moment's killers.
On May 6, 2010, Taylor went to a corner store for his mother and was shot dead in front of his house at 23d and Ellsworth Streets.
DNA evidence led to 21-year-old Derrick White, who was charged with killing Taylor to keep him from testifying. Sax prosecuted, and on Feb. 29, a jury convicted White of first-degree murder and sentenced him to death...
Sax's key live witness was Moment's girlfriend.
Williams, now 34, identified the Flamers and Bond in statements to detectives after the shooting. But by Tuesday, when she took the witness stand, Williams had long since "gone south" - recanted the identifications and blamed detectives for creating the statements.
"Because you people don't let me alone!" Williams replied when Sax asked her why she had signed her initial statements to detectives as well as photographs of the three shooters she identified.
"A friend of mine is dead," Williams said. "If I could help you, I would, but I didn't see nothing."
Let me jump in here: "I didn't see nothing." I am not going to rip the "no- snitch culture", that's just too easy. I understand that there are folks living in these communities with real fears of retaliation. (Look what happened in the story to poor Abdul Taylor.) But that is a part of the problem. Sadly, it's a tragic nonending cycle.
The good news is that a killer was found guilty last Friday, and he will never walk the streets of Southwest Philly ever again. The bad news is that there are too many more like him waiting to strike. [Read the full story here.]
*Pic from Philly.com