Defense lawyers for two men on trial in the 2011 gunshot slayings of three people during a robbery of a West Philadelphia bodega tried to plant reasonable doubt in the minds of jurors Wednesday about their clients' guilt by challenging witnesses' recollections.
The witnesses testified about two bodega robberies that preceded the triple slayings on Sept. 6, 2011, and which prosecutors contend link Ibrahim Muhammed and Nalik Scott to the shooting deaths of Porfirio Nunez, 50; his wife, Juana, 44; and his sister Lina Sanchez, 48.
Muhammed and Scott face the death penalty if convicted of three counts of first-degree murder.
Despite Muhammed's confession to the slayings, he and Scott have pleaded not guilty, and their attorneys are mounting an aggressive defense arguing that they are victims of mistaken identity, and that the confession is false and the result of Muhammed's schizophrenia.
Gregorio Ortega testified about being shot in July 2011 during a robbery of a bodega on North Gratz Street in North Philadelphia where he worked, and about who shot him. He positively identified Muhammed in court, as he did during a preliminary hearing last year.
But defense attorneys - Lawrence Krasner for Muhammed, and Jack McMahon for Scott - grilled Ortega about changing his story over the years.
They noted that in March 2012 he identified Scott from a police photo array as his shooter, while in August 2015, he pointed to the pictures of three men not connected to the shooting and ruled out Muhammed.
"I don't have any idea of this guy. He doesn't look like anyone," Ortega told police, referring to Muhammed.
Ortega, aided by a Spanish-language interpreter, repeatedly became upset with the defense attorneys and snapped, "When someone is pointing a gun at your head, you can't remember."
Jessica Greenleaf testified about seeing three men in low-pulled baseball caps flee a bodega on Reedland Street in West Philadelphia in August 2011. After entering the store she quickly learned the three had pulled a robbery and locked the owner in the basement.
Despite circling Scott's picture and initialing it during the police investigation, Greenleaf testified that she could not identify the three men she saw fleeing after the robbery.
When Anthony Voci, a Muhammed attorney, asked whether she felt pressured by the police to make an identification, Greenleaf replied, "Yes."
Defense testimony is scheduled to continue Thursday.