A 22-year-old Philadelphia man was ordered Tuesday to stand trial in the shooting deaths of a Southwest Philadelphia man and his fiancee after an argument last July.

At a preliminary hearing, Municipal Court Judge Wendy L. Pew ordered Richard Roane of East Mount Airy to be tried on counts of first-degree murder, carrying a firearm without a license and in public, possessing an instrument of crime, and reckless endangerment in the deaths of 28-year-old Raheem Brown and 25-year-old Audrey Rhoads.

Rodney Stith, a friend of both victims, testified that the shooting erupted after he, Brown, and Rhoads attended a pool party in Southwest Philadelphia on the night of July 7.

At some point during the transition from late Saturday to early Sunday, Brown became upset and left the party, Stith said. He followed Brown to Elmwood Avenue, flanked by Rhoads. Along the way, they ran into Roane, whom both men knew.

“There was a heated exchange" between Brown and Roane, Stith said under questioning from Assistant District Attorney Whitney Golden. Stith didn’t explain what prompted the argument. He said that he “tried to intervene” but that Roane shot Brown and Rhoads several times.

Brown and Rhoads had been a couple for nine years. He had a son, now a teenager, and four daughters under age 10. Rhoads was the mother of the two youngest daughters.

Raheem Brown and his fiancee, Audrey Rhoads.
Raheem Brown and his fiancee, Audrey Rhoads.

Roane fled the scene and was captured by federal marshals in Ohio in February.

His lawyer, Walter Chisholm, tried to discredit Stith’s testimony Tuesday by pointing to what he said were inconsistencies in his statement to police: Stith had initially described the shooter as a dark-skinned, clean-shaven male who stood about 5-foot-9.

Chisholm told the judge that his client is a light-skinned, bearded man who stands more than 6 feet tall and weighs about 240 pounds.

But Stith admitted under questioning from the prosecutor that he was not initially forthright in his description of the shooter to police because “he didn’t want to go down this road” of having to testify.

The judge accepted that testimony. She ordered a pretrial hearing next month for Roane.

Brown’s family, including several of nine living siblings and his mother, wore buttons to the hearing that featured the faces of Brown and his fiancee. After the hearing, Brown’s sister, Kaheria Scott, thanked the witness for stepping forward to testify against Roane.

“It’s a hard thing to do,” she said.