JEREMIAH JAKSON, who was charged with robbing and killing a young woman and leaving her remains in a vacant lot stuffed in a duffel bag in July, came to court yesterday wearing a shirt emblazoned with: Crime Pays.
"That's an interesting choice of shirt you wore to court," Municipal Judge Teresa Carr Deni said, sarcastically.
Jakson, 22, told the judge someone gave him the shirt because he had no clothes of his own in jail.
For those who could not see the front of Jakson's white T-shirt with pink letters, the angered judge announced what it said.
"I would object to that," snapped defense lawyer Andres Jalon.
But Deni wasn't finished, and later told Jalon he needed to follow up with the jail to find out why his client was allowed to appear in court wearing such a shirt, which she denounced as "unacceptable."
Generally, the preliminary hearing did not go well for Jakson, who was ordered held for trial for murder, robbery, abuse of a corpse and related counts.
Two homicide detectives testified about - but not did not show - the video-recorded statement the defendant allegedly gave claiming that a female friend killed the victim on July 13 and that he helped with the robbery, dumping of the body and torching of the victim's 2011 Toyota RAV4.
Jakson and the victim, Laura Araujo, 23, a recent graduate from the Art Institute of Philadelphia, lived in the same rooming house on 40th Street near Brown in Mantua, where he told detectives the slaying took place and where he stole her laptop computer and camcorder.
Araujo's SUV was found soaked in gasoline and torched, on Bambrey Street near Tasker in South Philadelphia, shortly before 3 a.m. July 14, testified Lt. Donald Bradley, of the Fire Marshal's Office .
Later that day, police found the victim's remains in the lot, on 3rd Street near Susquehanna Avenue in North Philadelphia.
Homicide Detective James Pitts testified that on the day of the slaying, Jakson was recorded on a gas station's video surveillance system using the victim's ATM card to withdraw money.
No evidence existed that a woman, or anyone else, helped Jakson, despite the defendant's claim that his female accomplice used the ATM card, Pitts testified.
Assistant District Attorney Gail Fairman, reading from the medical examiner's report, said cords were tied around Araujo's ankles, wrists, torso and neck.
Blunt-impact-trauma wounds were found on her face, there was swelling to her head and puncture wounds to a hand, Fairman read. The cause of death was strangulation.
Authorities were led to Jakson because he sought treatment at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania for burns to both forearms and his abdomen shortly after the burning SUV was found.
Araujo's father, Lorenzo Araujo, who flew from his Oklahoma City home for the hearing, said his family, which includes her six siblings, has leaned on faith to cope with the tragedy.
He expressed disappointment about Jakson's shirt and the fact that Jalon arrived more than an hour late for the hearing.
"We know that the lawyer should make an effort to present [his client] in a more socially acceptable manner, a more decent and human way," he said.
Clara Garcia, a cousin from New Jersey and Navy veteran of the war in Afghanistan, said of Araujo: "She's an angel. Her personality was very calm. You knew that you could trust her. She's with God."