A 31-year-old man charged Monday with fatally shooting his 24-year-old girlfriend in front of her newborn daughter had been arrested last year and accused of assaulting the woman during an altercation in the Kingsessing section of the city, court records show.
Tyrese Lynch was taken into custody on Dec. 21, 2017, after he was accused of biting Isis Williams, trying to drag her out of a car, and punching her, the records say. They add that police found Williams with injuries including a bite mark on her right hand.
But the case against Lynch was dropped less than three weeks later, on Jan. 8, due to “prosecutorial discretion.” The records do not elaborate on the reason for the dismissal.
Ben Waxman, spokesperson for District Attorney Larry Krasner -- who was sworn into office Jan. 2 -- said in an email Tuesday that charges were withdrawn because Williams had “recanted her initial statements to police and informed our office that she was unwilling to testify.” As a result, he said, “our office made an assessment of the evidence in the case and determined that there was not a path to a viable prosecution at that time.”
“Sadly, this occurs in many domestic violence cases,” Waxman continued. “That’s why it’s critical to believe and support victims of abuse.”
Lynch was being held without bail Tuesday for allegedly shooting Williams around 4 a.m. Friday in his home on the 6300 block of Woodstock Street in East Germantown. Williams had given birth five days earlier, police said, and her daughter was sleeping in a crib a few feet away when Lynch allegedly pulled the trigger.
Attempts to reach Williams' relatives Tuesday were unsuccessful. A GoFundMe page to cover her funeral costs said she had struggled to leave an “abusive relationship,” sometimes sleeping in her car or with family members to avoid Lynch.
Police said Wednesday that the infant, who was not injured in the shooting, is now living with an aunt.
In last year’s incident, according to court records, Williams went to her stepmother’s house in Kingsessing with all her belongings, and Lynch later showed up and told her to give him the keys to her car. After an argument and struggle over the keys, the records say, Lynch tried to drive his car away after taking the tags off Williams' vehicle.
Williams tried to get into Lynch’s car to retrieve the tags, the records say, but Lynch bit Williams on the hand. Lynch then drove a few blocks with Williams in the passenger seat, the records say, after which Lynch pulled over, tried to drag Williams out of the car, and “struck her numerous times to her face."
Officers who responded to 55th Street and Thomas Avenue spoke to Lynch, who the records say admitted to being "in a physical altercation” with Williams. One of the two officers saw that Williams had injuries around her right eye and a bite mark on the hand, the records say.
Lynch was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, and reckless endangerment. At a preliminary hearing scheduled for Jan. 8, the records say, the counts against Lynch were withdrawn. It was not immediately clear whether Williams or either of the police officers who responded had been called to testify.
At a vigil for Williams in East Germantown on Monday, videos of which were shared on social media, family members lit candles and released balloons into the air, and described Williams as a “wonderful mother."