A man was socializing with a woman at the grand reopening of a North Philadelphia bar in May of last year. When the woman got up to go to the restroom, another man took her seat.
The first man started an argument with the second man, then chased him outside where both men began shooting at each other.
They survived their duel, but caught in the cross-fire was 425-pound bar bouncer Peter Lyde Jr. - the stepgrandson of former boxing champ Smokin' Joe Frazier and the stepson of his daughter, Municipal Judge Jacquelyn Frazier-Lyde.
Assistant District Attorney Leon Goodman laid out that scenario for a Common Pleas jury yesterday at the start of the murder trial for Rodney Evans, of Ludlow Street near 55th, in West Philadelphia.
Evans, who stands 6 feet 5, is the one who started the fight, the one who refused to back down when the shorter man tried to retreat, the one who unleashed terror by pulling a handgun, Goodman said.
"A man lost his life over a seat, over a perceived act of disrespect," said Goodman.
Lyde, 25, did not know Evans and it was his first time working at the Pleasures on the Ridge bar, on Ridge Avenue near 22nd.
Evans is charged with murder and related counts even though there is no evidence that he fired the bullet that struck Lyde in the chest.
Goodman said that because Evans started the argument and shootout that led to the death he is as responsible as the shooter - who remains at large and is identified only as a shorter, bearded man who wore a red shirt.
A precedent-setting case that Goodman has in his legal arsenal is that of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Michael Gaynor. In that 1994 case, the state Supreme Court ruled that when two gunmen try to kill each other, and an innocent person is killed by a stray bullet, both are guilty of first-degree murder.
Jack McMahon, Evans' attorney, tried to impress upon the jury that the only guilty man is the one who is still on the run.
"The guy that fled the scene. The guy who wasn't there when the police arrived . . . He shot Mr. Lyde," McMahon said.
But Evans remained at the scene, was handcuffed, questioned by police and released.
No gun was found on him or near him, said McMahon.
"That's not my lawyer mumble jumble, that's a fact," McMahon said.
Evans was arrested three months later.