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Trial proceedings have begun for brothers Dawud and Khalid Faruqi, the two men accused of the murder of seven people in the crime that has come to be known as the "Lex Street massacre."

The Faruqi brothers have pleaded not guilty to seven counts of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder. If convicted, they could face the death penalty under Pennsylvania law.

The killings took place in a West Philadelphia crack house in December 2000, after an attempted robbery went wrong.

Two accomplices to the crime, Shihean Black and Bruce Veney, have already pleaded guilty. Veney is expected to testify against the accused during the trial.

As part of a bargain for a reduced sentence, Veney testified last winter that Dawud told him that the turtleneck he was wearing to conceal his identity fell down and that the murders were necessary to protect their identities.

According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Assistant District Attorney Vernon Chestnut told jurors in his opening statement on Feb. 12 that the Faruqi brothers were planning to rob the victims after an argument over a car trade.

Chestnut went on to describe a scene of dead bodies in fetal positions on the floor and said the police found ballistic evidence tying the men to the killings.

He also mentioned an earlier debacle for the prosecution, in which four innocent men were arrested for the crime, only to be released and cleared of all charges after 18 months in prison.

This past September, a settlement was reached in a suit against the city, awarding $1.9 million to be divided among the original four detainees.

According to the Inquirer, Khalid's lawyer Robert Gamburg said during the trial that the police are merely looking for a scapegoat.

Dawud's attorney, Todd Henry, saved his opening remarks until the beginning of the defense's presentation.

On Feb. 13, the second day of trial, Bruce Carter took the stand to testify. The 48-year-old is one of three survivors of the massacre. He could not, however, positively identify the brothers as the shooters in the murders.

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