BEFORE A PACKED courtroom yesterday, a Common Pleas judge found Rafael Jones guilty of first-degree murder and other charges in the 2012 shooting death of off-duty Police Officer Moses Walker Jr.
Jones, 25, of North Philly, did not react when Judge Jeffrey Minehart announced the guilty verdicts. He faces a mandatory term of life in prison when he is sentenced March 6.
Prosecutors withdrew their intention to seek the death penalty after Jones on Monday waived his right to a jury trial and decided to proceed with a bench trial.
After the verdict, Walker's mother, Wayne Lipscomb, told reporters she "felt that justice has been done."
Walker, 40, her eldest son, was loved by family, co-workers, church members and acquaintances, she said.
He was "a giving person," she said. "Every time I spoke to Moses, Moses greeted me with, 'Hi, Beautiful.' I don't get to hear that anymore . . .
"I wake up every morning, wishing that this is all a nightmare and Moses is going to come running up the steps," she said.
In a passionate closing argument, Assistant District Attorney Jude Conroy said that about 5:50 a.m. Aug. 18, 2012, "two drastically different worlds intersected" in North Philly.
Walker, a 19-year veteran, was walking to catch the Route 61 bus on Ridge Avenue because his car had broken down. He had just finished his shift at the 22nd District, at 17th Street and Montgomery Avenue, and was heading home.
At that same time, Jones and co-defendant Chancier McFarland - "predators in the night hunting a victim," Conroy said - were looking for an easy victim to rob, and were armed with a .40-caliber semiautomatic gun.
They found their target when they saw a guy dressed in a Converse jacket and shorts, carrying a backpack, Conroy said. They thought he was a Temple student and thus, "a sweet lick" or easy victim.
According to testimony by McFarland in the trial on Wednesday, Jones approached Walker twice on Cecil B. Moore Avenue near 20th Street, first asking for a light for a cigarette. Walker said he didn't smoke and kept walking.
Conroy re-enacted the second encounter, which occurred about half a block west, on Cecil B. Moore near Woodstock Street. Holding the actual murder weapon, the prosecutor walked up to a life-sized mannequin in the back of the courtroom, which was dressed in the actual shorts and jacket Walker had worn that day.
Jones "takes the gun, walks up to him [Walker] and puts it right in his face, Conroy said as he demonstrated with the mannequin.
Walker tried to reach for his service weapon, but Jones then fired two shots - one at Walker's abdominal area, and the second into his chest, Conroy said.
"As the officer lies bleeding to death," McFarland took Walker's iPod and earphones, which fell to the ground, Conroy said, and McFarland admitted.
McFarland, 21, pleaded guilty in June to third-degree murder, robbery and conspiracy in the slaying. Under terms of a plea deal, he will serve 20 to 40 years in prison and had agreed to testify against Jones.
Jones' defense lawyer, Michael Coard, in his closing argument, called McFarland and another prosecution witness, Maurice Gibbs, liars. Both implicated Jones as the shooter.
Gibbs lived in the Bartram Village public-housing apartment complex in Southwest Philadelphia, where Jones was arrested in the days after the shooting. He had known Jones from years before and testified in the trial Tuesday that Jones showed up to the complex on Aug. 20, 2012, and confided that he shot a cop.