The hearing began Tuesday with 16-year-old Tyquail Duffy confronted with the testimony of 15-year-old Sahmir Walker, both charged in April's robbery and slaying in Crescentville of a deliveryman for a Chinese restaurant.
It ended with Duffy being ordered to stand trial on murder charges in the death of 49-year-old Rendong Zheng, Duffy's mother being held for contempt of court after she took a cellphone photo of Walker in the witness box, and Zheng's widow erupting in wails and pounding on the bulletproof glass separating the gallery from the court.
The teenagers, neighbors in the 500 block of Hillcreek Circle, were arrested in the April 23 shooting of Zheng in what police called an attempted robbery.
But when Duffy was brought into the high-security courtroom for his preliminary hearing in Philadelphia Municipal Court, Walker was already on the witness stand.
Assistant District Attorney Chesley Lightsey said Walker had signed an agreement in which he agreed to testify against Duffy.
In exchange, Lightsey told Judge David C. Shuter, her office dropped the murder charge and agreed that Walker could be tried in Juvenile Court on a robbery charge.
Walker - like Duffy bespectacled and appearing years younger than he is - testified that on April 23, he was at home with aunt Edna Myers while his mother was caring for her mother in the South.
It was about 10:50 p.m., Walker testified, and they were waiting for a delivery of food from the nearby New China Restaurant, when Duffy knocked on the door and was invited in.
When he told Duffy about the food delivery, Walker said, Duffy flashed the butt of a handgun and said, "I'm going to rob the delivery guy."
"I was terrified, of him and the gun," Walker said. "I had never seen him before with a gun."
Walker said the deliveryman called his cellphone to say he was outside with the food. Walker said Duffy got behind him, gun drawn, and forced him to walk outside.
When they arrived at Zheng's car, Walker said, Duffy "shoved me aside and said, 'Give me the money.' "
"I want no trouble. I just want to leave," Zheng said, according to Walker.
As he walked back to the house, Walker said, he heard a shot and the "thud of a body hitting the ground."
Duffy later returned to the house, aimed the gun at his head and his aunt's, Walker said, and warned he would kill them if they went to police.
Several days later, however, Myers and Walker did call police and gave statements.
Questioning Walker, defense attorney Trevan Borum said he was embellishing his account to please the prosecution. Borum noted that Walker's statement did not say he was terrified when he first saw the gun.
Throughout the hearing, Zheng's widow, Xiuhong Wang, sat in the gallery, weeping as an interpreter translated the proceedings for her.
But as Walker was led from the courtroom after testifying, Wang screamed and rushed up to Duffy, pounding on the thick glass.
Wang was guided from the courtroom. Then Duffy's mother, Tanya, was brought in for a contempt hearing.
Speaking through attorney Shaka Johnson, Duffy said she wanted to have a picture of Borum and the courtroom where her son's hearing was.
But Lightsey said that the only face visible in the photo was Walker's as he sat in the witness stand.
Lightsey noted that all courtroom visitors are warned that taking photos is prohibited.
"She wanted to go back to the neighborhood and let everybody know who the rat was and who the snitch was so everybody could begin trying to intimidate the family of Sahmir Walker," Lightsey said.
Shuter sentenced Duffy to 21/2 to five months in prison for contempt of court, telling her that witnesses had been killed after testifying, rejecting her lawyer's plea that she had cared for children and grandchildren at home.
"She should have thought about that first," Shuter said.