Three friends of the three men accused of killing pre-med student Robert Janke testified against their friends at a preliminary hearing yesterday, with one saying he saw the shooting clearly. In addition, Giovanni Reed, one of the men charged in the August 10 murder, has been harassing and intimidating the witnesses, Assistant District Attorney Arlene Fisk charged. At the hearing, held in a City Hall courtroom, Fisk said Reed and his family and friends have "approached and intimidated" witnesses that say they saw the 16-year-old take money from Janke an instant after the student was shot in the head. Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Lydia Kirkland ordered Reed and the two other men to be held without bail in Janke's murder after their lawyers declined to ask her to set it. She also issued a similar order for Chester Hollman, the 21-year-old accused of participating in the August 20 shooting death of Tae Jung Ho, an University English student. In Hollman's hearing, Kirkland declined to set bail because he faces capital charges. Family members, friends, reporters and other observers packed the "secure" homicide courtroom -- guarded by a metal detector and several officers -- and heard testimony from three friends of Reed and co-defendants Carlton Bennett and Dwayne Bennett, who are cousins. According to testimony from Dwahn Bennett, Richard King, and Tyrone Macky, the six friends were walking in the area of 17th and South streets when they saw Janke standing by a public phone. Macky testified that he, King, and Dwahn Bennett were walking a block ahead of the three defendants when they heard a gunshot. Macky turned to see Dwayne Bennett holding Janke by the collar and pointing a gun at the victim's temple. Carlton Bennett stood next to the University student as Dwayne lowered Janke to the ground and Reed searched his pockets, Macky testified. A shaken Macky was repeatedly told by Judge Kirkland to speak up as he sat through nearly an hour's worth of questioning by Fisk and three defense attorneys. The most disturbing part of the testimony came as Macky recounted a conversation he had with Dwayne Bennett minutes after the murder back at his mother's house. When Macky asked Dwayne "why he did it," Dwayne responded, "That's just me, that's just me. What're you gonna do, shoot me?" Macky testified that Reed, his friend of two years, lost the $6 he stole from Janke while fleeing the murder scene. The six men, all Philadelphia residents, had not been taking drugs, nor were they intoxicated, according to Macky, who stressed that he, King, and Dwahn Bennett had separated from the three attackers. The three defense attorneys each attempted to create doubt that their clients had actually been involved in the incident, and also attempted to implicate King, Dwahn Bennett and Macky in the shooting. Barbara McDermott, Dwayne Bennett's lawyer, asked if her client had gently laid down the mortally wounded Janke. District Attorney Fisk immediately objected, saying that after shooting someone, a murderer's actions cannot be considered "gentle." Judge Kirkpatrick sustained the objection. Janke's father, also named Robert, groaned softly when he heard McDermott's question. Next, 27-year-old Richard King testified that, while walking a block ahead of Dwayne Bennett, he turned around just in time to watch Dwayne pull the trigger, killing Janke. King said, after shooting Janke, Dwayne turned to his two accomplices, saying, "that's the way you do it." Fisk, after the hearing, accused Dwayne Bennett of "conducting Robbery 101 for the benefit of his accomplices," adding that the murder "was a vicious, violent assault." The second hearing, delayed several hours while court officials transported the defendant from the detention center, included testimony from two witnesses to Ho's August 20 murder near the corner of 22nd and Walnut streets. Lone defendant Chester Hollman, charged as an accomplice in the robbery and murder, was dressed in a grey tweed sport jacket and sat emotionless as a friend, another witness and Ho's girlfriend -- also a University student -- testified that he helped kill Ho. Jun Ko Nichei, speaking through a Japanese translater, told the court that she and Ho were walking south on 22nd Street when they were attacked from behind by two "black men." Nichei could only identify the attackers as "two black men," and said that she and Ho were pushed to the ground. Ho was held by the feet by one attacker, who police say was Hollman, while a second man held him by the shoulders and eventually shot him in the chest, according to Nichei's testimony. Hollman's friend, Diedre Jones, testified that she, Hollman, and another man and woman traveled through Center City in the late hours of August 20 because they were "bored." Police are still searching for the man and the woman, according to Assistant District Attorney Edward Cameron. According to Jones, she and her friends frequently drove throughout the city, but Hollman said that night they were "going to get somebody." She said when she asked the North Philadelphia resident what he meant, Hollman responded, "We're going to stick somebody up." A reluctant witness, Jones finally explained that she and the other woman waited in a white Ford Ranger while Hollman and his friend got out of the car to confront Ho and his girlfriend. Jones said she turned when she heard the gunshot and saw Hollman running away from the scene, towards her and the woman driving the car. A convenience store worker, Andre Dawkins, testified that he passed Hollman and the shooter on the street minutes before the attack and later saw a gun flash from behind the vehicle as the shooter killed Ho. According to Dawkins, Ho screamed to the attackers, "take what you want, just don't hurt us." Dawkins, when pressed by defense attorney George Newman, seemed confused about the direction the two men were running after the shooting, but remained adamant that he was telling the truth. After brief closing arguments by both attorneys, Judge Kirkland found that the Commonwealth had presented enough evidence to continue its case. Newman asked for bail to be set at $100,000 since Hollman has strong ties to the community and no prior convictions. After an hour-long in-chambers meeting, Kirkland denied bail, explaining that Hollman is facing capital charges with aggravating circumstances. Kirkland scheduled arraignments for Hollman, and the three defendants in the Janke murder, for 9 a.m. October 3 in courtroom 646 at City Hall.Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.