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Defendant in deaths of 2 is held for trial

1 of the slain women was murder witness

A 26-year-old man accused of killing a witness to a 2000 murder and the young woman's friend yesterday was held for trial on two counts of first-degree murder in the shooting earlier this year.

Laquaille Bryant, of 11th Street near Godfrey Avenue, Fern Rock, allegedly killed Chante Wright and Octavia "Tay" Green, both 23, about 2 a.m. Jan. 19.

Bryant, Wright's childhood friend, was allegedly sitting in the rear of Wright's rental car when he shot Wright and Green in South Philadelphia.

Municipal Court Judge Jimmie Moore yesterday held Bryant on all charges including murder, witness intimidation, weapons offenses and conspiracy.

Bryant will be formally arraigned June 10.

In court, Homicide Detective John Harkins read Bryant's statement in which he allegedly confessed to both shootings.

In the statement, Bryant said he pulled out a gun and fired at the two women. But then "Chante was getting out of the car and ran, and I shot her again," he said.

Wright collapsed on the sidewalk on Patton Street near Tasker.

Wright was a witness in a 2000 shooting in which Hakeem Bey allegedly killed Wright's friend, Moses Williams, 23, in South Philadelphia. Bey, 26, faces trial in that murder in September.

Under questioning yesterday by Assistant District Attorney Brian Zarallo, Homicide Detective John Verrecchio testified about cell-phone calls made among various people, including an alleged middleman, showing evidence of a conspiracy that Bey had ordered the killing of Wright.

Wright had been the first state witness to enter the federal witness-protection program. She and her son were relocated to Jacksonville, Fla., but she continued to call people in Philadelphia and was then dropped from the federal program.

Despite warnings, Wright returned to Philadelphia to see her dying grandmother, who had raised her.

After yesterday's hearing, Green's father, Michael Green, 53, and an aunt who did not want to give her name both called the killings "senseless."

Michael Green said Bryant "should be tortured." He explained that he didn't "want to physically hurt him," but "I want him to suffer."

Green said he had a remedy in which he would take Bryant "to the most remote place in the world, drop him off nude," have him pass out, and when he made it back home, repeat the cycle over and over again. *