One of the two men who in 2014 hijacked a Toyota 4Runner, then slammed the SUV into a woman who, with three of her children, was selling fruit on a North Philadelphia street corner - killing all four - pleaded guilty Friday to a host of charges in a deal that spares him from life in prison.
Jonathan Rosa, 20, of Fairhill, pleaded guilty in Common Pleas Court to four counts of third-degree murder, conspiracy, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, robbery of a motor vehicle, and aggravated assault.
The sex crime charge stems from the assault on the hijacking victim, a real estate agent who was in the backseat of the Toyota when it slammed into Keisha Williams, 34; Keiearra Williams, 15; Joseph Reed, 10; and Terrance Moore, 7, about 11:20 a.m. July 25, 2014, at Germantown and Allegheny Avenues.
The family had been selling fruit in front of a vacant lot to raise money to turn the parcel into a playground. The children died that day. Williams, a mother of five, died Aug. 7, 2014.
The deal calls for Rosa to testify against codefendant Cornelius Crawford, 25, of Logan, who is charged with four counts of second-degree murder, robbery, sexual assault, and related crimes. If Rosa follows through, he is expected to be sentenced to 45 to 90 years in state prison by Common Pleas Judge Rose Marie DeFino-Nastasi on April 14.
Rosa, a short, bearded man, did not say much in court, save for answering "guilty" as the many counts were read by a court officer. Afterward, he lowered his head and quietly wept.
Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore, noticing his tears, handed tissues to defense attorney Christopher Warren, who gave them to his client.
The victims' family members, who had taken up three rows in the gallery, meanwhile, remained solemn throughout the proceeding, some of them sniffling.
On the morning of the crash, Pescatore told the court, Rosa and Crawford came upon the 45-year-old real estate agent, who had stopped her SUV on the 2500 block of North Sixth Street because she was lost.
Crawford banged on a passenger-side window and made like he was holding a handgun, Pescatore said. Crawford got in the front-passenger seat and Rosa in the back, the prosecutor said.
Crawford punched the woman numerous times and ordered her to pull into an alley, Pescatore said. He then jumped into the backseat, and forced the woman to perform oral sex on him, the prosecutor said.
Then the men exchanged places: Rosa moved to the backseat and forced the woman to perform oral sex on him, and Crawford took the wheel, Pescatore said.
Crawford took off at a high rate of speed and lost control of the Toyota, and it crashed into Williams and her children. Also injured in the crash was a 69-year-old woman, Thelma Brown, who suffered a broken leg and had to be hospitalized for a few days, the prosecutor said.
After the hearing, Sharmaine Williams, 33, a sister of the dead mother, said she thought the deal was fair.
Rosa "wasn't the driver," she said. And when Rosa waived his preliminary hearing in August 2014, "he apologized to the family," she said.
"Crawford never did," she added. "He is coldhearted."