The defense team for Wilfredo Santiago suggested to a jury yesterday that a sympathizer of the radical group MOVE killed Police Officer Thomas Trench in 1985 in retaliation for a police bombing on its compound two weeks earlier that killed 11 people.
Thomas McGill, one of Santiago's three lawyers, yesterday read into evidence four anonymous calls made to the police radio room just hours after Trench was killed on May 28, 1985.
The first caller, at 6:32 a.m., told the operator: "The MOVE is going to kill all you policemen."
The second, at 7:31 a.m., said: "Yeah, y'all just had a cop killed, right? ... For the 11 members you've killed, there is going to be more."
The third, about two hours later, told the operator: "I just want to tell you. Y'all killed 11 of our people. We got one of yours."
And the last caller, at 10:03 a.m., said: "Yeah, that's one gone. You got 10 more to go."
McGill also told the jury that on that day, authorities discovered graffiti in a sixth-floor City Hall men's bathroom stall, which said: "For every MOVEr who was murdered, one cop will be executed."
In rebuttal, Assistant District Attorney Carlos Vega called to the stand former Philadelphia Police Capt. Eugene Dooley, who headed the Homicide Division in 1985.
Dooley, now police chief of East Whiteland Township, Chester County, said that after an investigation, his unit determined "that the MOVE members were not involved in the shooting of Officer Trench."
The bombing of the MOVE house on Osage Avenue near 62nd Street, West Philadelphia, followed tensions between police and MOVE. In the weeks afterward, police and city officials received various anonymous threats of violence from callers who claimed to be linked to MOVE.
Prosecutors contend that Trench's murder had nothing to do with the bombing, and instead was a case of mistaken identity.
After 2 1/2 weeks of testimony in Santiago's murder retrial, closing arguments are slated for 9 a.m. Monday before Common Pleas Judge Renee Cardwell Hughes. The jury is expected to get the case around noon.
During the retrial, which began April 30, Santiago, 44, entered the courtroom in a tie, slacks and button-down shirt with an armful of papers and files. He frequently took notes on a yellow legal pad as he listened to witness testimony.
Santiago was convicted by a jury in 1986 of first-degree murder, but the state Superior Court in 1991 ordered a new trial based on trial-judge and police errors.
The retrial did not take place until now - 23 years after Trench's murder - because of various twists and turns in legal proceedings.
Trench, 43, was shot in the face and neck about 2:30 a.m. as he sat in patrol car No. 912 on 17th Street near Spring Garden.
Prosecutors contend that Santiago intended to kill another officer, Ismael Cruz, who had driven car 912 the evening before. That day, Cruz had chased Santiago, who was involved in a street fight and reportedly had a gun.