The alleged killer of Philadelphia Police Officer Moses Walker got a one-week reprieve from the start of a trial that could send him to Pennsylvania's Death Row.
After a closed-door pretrial conference Monday with Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey P. Minehart, Assistant District Attorneys Jude Conroy and Brian Zarallo and defense attorney Michael Coard agreed that Rafael Jones' capital trial will begin Monday with jury selection.
Jones, 25, was one of two men charged in the Aug. 18, 2012 robbery and slaying of Walker, 40, a 19-year veteran of the police force. Walker was fatally shot at about 6 a.m. as he walked to a bus stop after finishing his shift as a turnkey in North Philadelphia's 22d Police District.
Surveillance video showed Walker being tailed, confronted and then shot by one of two gunmen.
But the main evidence against Jones will likely come from his alleged accomplice, Chancier McFarland, 21, who pleaded guilty to third-degree murder in June in a deal that lets him escape life in prison if he testifies for the prosecution in Jones' trial.
Under McFarland's plea agreement, he will be sentenced to 20 to 40 years in prison if he fulfills his promise to cooperate. McFarland, who is also facing prison time in a federal carjacking case, would be allowed to serve his state sentence in a federal prison.
Walker's slaying put Pennsylvania probation policies under scrutiny when it was learned Jones was released by state probation officers three days before Walker's shooting although he had tested positive for marijuana use and failed to find a proper place to live under house arrest.
Coard said that at this point Jones "is presumed innocent" and he was continuing to prepare for a death penalty trial. Coard said he would "zealously show that [Jones] is not guilty of shooting or robbing the courageous and beloved Officer Moses Walker."