CHANCIER McFARLAND, testifying yesterday as a prosecution witness in the shooting death of off-duty Officer Moses Walker Jr., said he and co-defendant Rafael Jones were looking for someone to rob in the early morning of Aug. 18, 2012.
Their target? "Someone that looked easy, who wouldn't put up a fight," McFarland, 21, said at the nonjury murder trial of Jones, 25.
McFarland, testifying in a low voice and not making eye contact with Jones, said he and Jones first drove around North Philly in a car shortly after 5 a.m. that day. McFarland had with him a .40-caliber semiautomatic gun, which he had previously stolen from a friend.
Not spotting an easy victim and "running out of gas" for his car, McFarland said he parked at 21st and Sharswood streets. Before they got out of the car, he said he gave the gun to Jones.
He said the two of them walked around and then spotted their target walking on Cecil B. Moore Avenue near 19th Street.
"He looked like a Temple student," McFarland said. "He had a backpack. He might have had a computer in it."
It wasn't until later on TV news that they learned that their victim was Walker, 40, an off-duty cop who had just finished his shift at the 22nd District, at 17th Street and Montgomery Avenue, and who was walking to a bus stop to head home at about 5:45 a.m.
Walker was dressed in shorts, a jacket, a baseball cap and was carrying a backpack and had earphones in his ears.
McFarland, who has pleaded guilty to third-degree murder, robbery and conspiracy, said they followed Walker on Cecil B. Moore to 20th Street. At that intersection, Jones went up to Walker and asked him "for a light" for a cigarette, McFarland said.
Walker said "he didn't smoke" and kept walking, McFarland said, adding that he and Jones then continued to follow Walker another half block to the corner of Cecil B. Moore and Woodstock Street. At that corner, Jones pulled the gun out of his waist, "doesn't say nothing," and aims it at Walker's face, McFarland said.
Jones then fired two or three shots at Walker, who made a noise like "Ahh," McFarland said.
Walker then ran to a nearby fence, where he collapsed, said McFarland, who added that he picked up and stole the iPod and earphones Walker dropped.
McFarland said he and Jones then ran in separate directions. McFarland returned to his car and drove back to the shooting scene "to see what was going on."
Walker was still lying on the ground and a responding officer was there, McFarland said.
He said Jones kept calling him on his cell. McFarland answered at 5:57 a.m., then went to pick Jones up at 21st Street and College Avenue. They went to McFarland's house on 23rd Street near Master, where they changed clothes, and where McFarland dropped off the gun.
Asked by Assistant District Attorney Jude Conroy if Jones said why he shot Walker, McFarland testified: "Yeah, because he [Walker] was reaching." Walker had his service weapon on him.
Officer Ryan Saunders, the first to respond to the shooting, testified Monday that Walker's gun and backpack were on the ground where Walker collapsed. Walker was pronounced dead at a hospital at 6:23 a.m. that day.
Later that day, McFarland said he went to Delaware Avenue to make copies of manufacturers' coupons, and then he and Jones drove to a CVS out of state.
McFarland, earlier in testimony, explained that as part of a job, he would use coupons to help buy items like diapers and milk, then he would give the items to a man in North Philly. (The man paid him for the items.)
Video evidence in the Common Pleas trial showed McFarland and Jones at a CVS store in Falls Church, Va., about 6:45 p.m. the same day Walker was killed.
McFarland gave two statements to Philly homicide detectives on Aug. 27, 2012, the first in Montgomery, Ala., where McFarland had eventually fled to, and the second at police headquarters in Philly later the same day.
In those statements, he didn't admit taking Walker's iPod and earphones. It wasn't until a third statement he gave in May of this year, when he decided to cooperate with the prosecution, that he said he took the items. Under his plea deal, he is expected to be sentenced to 20 to 40 years.
Michael Coard, Jones' attorney, hammered McFarland about how he lied on his first two statements. "Did the fear of the death penalty have anything to do with you giving" your last statement, Coard asked McFarland.
"Yes," said McFarland.
Closing arguments in Jones' trial are expected today before Judge Jeffrey Minehart.
McFarland, who is now in federal prison, had also pleaded guilty to robbery in a case involving a stolen dirt bike. His two co-defendants still face trial in that case.