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Trial opens in fatal shooting outside Wheels of Soul club

A man was slain April 1, 2012. The alleged shooter will face trial in May. The trial of an alleged accomplice began yesterday.

IN THE early-morning hours of April 1, 2012, outside the Wheels of Soul motorcycle club in West Philly, a man shot another man in the chest, then stood over his victim, pumping eight more shots into him, a prosecutor told a jury yesterday.

"Lying on the street, his body riddled with gunshot wounds," was Marcus Smith, 28, said Assistant District Attorney Guy D'Andrea. Smith was pronounced dead shortly afterward at a hospital.

Authorities contend that a man named Cortez Pryor fired the shots, and that his cousin, Demetrious Young, helped.

Pryor, 28, faces a trial in May.

The murder trial of Young, 22, started yesterday in Common Pleas Court with opening statements and witness testimony.

D'Andrea said outside court that he has no evidence that the victim or defendants were members of the motorcycle club, which also serves as an after-hours nightclub. Defense attorney W. Fred Harrison Jr. said his client, Young, was not a member.

D'Andrea told jurors that in the early-morning hours of April 1, 2012, Smith was going from nightclub to nightclub, ending up about 3 a.m. at the Wheels of Soul, on Market Street near 61st.

He said Pryor was driving a rental car and Young was in the passenger seat when they saw Smith after he left the club. Young alerted his cousin to stop the car, the prosecutor said.

Pryor and Smith "had some bad blood" between them, D'Andrea said. After Pryor got out of the car, Smith punched him, then Young got out and, as D'Andrea described it, "bear-hugs Marcus Smith, locks him in to assure Marcus can't get away." That gave Pryor time to get a gun from the car, the prosecutor said.

After the shooting, the two cousins got back inside the car, but as Pryor drove away, a club patron who saw what had happened shot at the car, hitting Pryor in the face, the prosecutor said. The car drifted to a stop, and occupants of a nearby van took Pryor to a hospital, D'Andrea said.

Only one of about 50 people outside the club - a woman - was willing to talk, D'Andrea said.

The prosecutor said that the murder weapon, later retrieved by a man on a bike and given to cops at the scene, had both Young's and Pryor's DNA.

Harrison, in his opening statement, disputed the prosecutor's account. He said the woman willing to testify had been drinking and was smoking marijuana as she waited to enter the club.

He ridiculed the notion that Young could hold Smith in a bear hug. Smith was 5 feet 11 and 175 pounds, and Young is 5 feet 7 and 130 pounds, Harrison said.

After Smith punched the driver, the passenger got out and held Smith for a second or two, then let him go, Harrison said. The driver then went to get a gun, but the driver didn't tell the passenger what he planned to do, Harrison said.