The verdict, delivered after nearly three hours of deliberation, capped a week-long trial in which several teens testified against Olivieri, now 18, and described how an aimless day after school turned deadly, with Olivieri wandering the streets with friends looking for trouble, then pulling a gun on a teen he perceived as a rival at 12th and Ritner Streets and firing during a struggle over the weapon.
The panel of seven men and five women voted to convict Olivieri of first-degree murder for the killing of Salvatore DiNubile and third-degree murder in the death of Caleer Miller, as well as related weapons charges.
Relatives and friends of DiNubile and Miller, who had packed the larger-than-normal courtroom all week, cried and exhaled loudly as the verdict was read. Afterward, DiNubile’s father, also named Salvatore, said: “We just got one little bit of justice today.”
Miller’s mother, Aishah George, credited the jurors with reaching what she called the right decision. “I can finally smile,” she said.
But relatives of Olivieri, who faces decades in prison, said that they still believe he was innocent, and they accused the DiNubiles of intimidating witnesses. Olivieri’s attorney, Robert Mozenter, said simply: “It was a very sad, tragic case.”
The double murder attracted intense attention in part because the teens involved had large and loosely overlapping social circles but attended different schools. DiNubile went to St. Joseph’s Preparatory School, Miller attended Mastery Charter School’s Thomas campus, and Olivieri went to Neumann Goretti High School.
Friends and relatives of DiNubile and Olivieri have frequently accused each other of threatening or menacing behavior, and court officials took precautions at the trial to prevent conflicts, placing an extra metal detector outside the courtroom, assigning seats in the gallery, and having a sheriff’s deputy escort some of Olivieri’s relatives in and out of the room. Common Pleas Court Judge Barbara A. McDermott also warned spectators to behave or face being held in contempt of court.
During closing arguments Friday morning, Olivieri’s attorney argued that the bitter history among the teens and their families was part of the reason that witness testimony against Olivieri should not be believed, saying that intimidation by “vigilante hoodlums” contributed to witnesses’ fabricating stories to implicate the teenager.
Of one 18-year-old witness, Mozenter said, “He’s a liar, and he was intimidated to lie.”
Assistant District Attorney Matthew Krouse, however, said testimony from several witnesses was consistent and corroborated by evidence, including cell-phone records. The result, he argued, was a portrait of Olivieri intentionally escalating a simmering feud with DiNubile by firing his gun on the street corner, accidentally hitting Miller with one of his three shots.
“Everyone is in agreement about what happened that day," Krouse said.
The crime occurred Oct. 24, 2017. Witnesses testified that Olivieri and several friends, including Miller, had hung out after school that day in South Philadelphia and decided to go looking for a fight near Capitolo Playground, next to Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s.
But when the boys arrived, witnesses said, their targets apparently weren’t around. Olivieri, Miller, and a key witness at trial, Nicholas Torrelli, now 17, were captured on surveillance video wandering the neighborhood.
The group ultimately wound up at 12th and Ritner, where DiNubile lived and where he and several friends were hanging on the corner. Torrelli testified that Olivieri had previously boasted in Instagram messages that he would “pop” DiNubile and his friends because they had once beaten him up in a fight that he thought was unfair.
When Olivieri’s group arrived, witnesses said, Miller approached one of DiNubile’s friends, whom he knew, and shook his hand — but Olivieri simply stared at DiNubile. Olivieri ultimately pulled out a gun, witnesses said, DiNubile lunged for it, and three shots were fired, one striking DiNubile and one striking Miller.
Krouse, the prosecutor, said Olivieri wanted to avenge his embarrassing loss in the previous fight.
Mozenter, however, said that the key witnesses were unreliable. Torrelli, he said, admitted lying under oath at the preliminary hearing, and one of DiNubile’s friends at the scene, Andrew Zanghi, admitted he identified Olivieri to police only after speaking with DiNubile’s family.
DiNubile and Miller were declared dead shortly after the shooting. Olivieri was not arrested for several days, and one of his friends, Marc Malerba, now 21, testified that he and another man tossed the murder weapon into the Delaware River.
But Mozenter attacked Malerba’s credibility as well, saying that Malerba admitted he did not implicate his friend until after he was assaulted by DiNubile’s father at Geno’s, where Malerba worked.
Krouse said that the witness stories each buttressed one another, and that the totality of the evidence supported the conclusion that Olivieri attacked DiNubile and accidentally shot his friend Miller.
“This case,” Krouse said, “has never been a whodunit.”