A West Philadelphia man went on trial Monday in last year's shootout at the "grand reopening" of a North Philadelphia bar that killed a bouncer, the stepgrandson of boxing legend Joe Frazier.
Although the evidence points to the shooter of Peter Lyde Jr. as a short, red-shirted man who escaped, Assistant District Attorney Leon Goodman told the Common Pleas Court jury that Rodney Evans put events in motion and was as culpable as the man whose bullet hit Lyde.
"When an innocent person gets killed," Goodman said, "both of them are responsible. Both acted with an intent to kill."
However, defense attorney Jack McMahon told the jury the evidence will show that Evans, 33, was not armed and that no spent cartridge casings were found where he was standing outside the North Philadelphia bar.
"This man never shot anyone on the planet that night," McMahon said in his opening statement.
Testimony is to begin Tuesday before Judge Shelley Robins New.
Lyde, 25, also the stepson of Municipal Court Judge Jacquelyn Frazier-Lyde, had just been hired as a bouncer for the May 31, 2009 reopening of Pleasures on the Ridge, at 22d Street and Ridge Avenue.
According to Goodman, Evans - at 6-foot-5, "the tallest man in the bar" - got into a heated argument with the 5-foot-5 man in the red shirt after the latter took the seat of a girlfriend at the bar.
Goodman said witnesses will testify that the early-morning argument culminated with Evans pulling a gun and the shorter man running outside with Evans in pursuit.
The two men began shooting at each other. One bullet hit Lyde, handling security outside at the door, in the chest.
Goodman said the Medical Examiner's office determined Lyde was killed by a 40-caliber bullet, and 40-caliber cartridge casings were found across 22d Street where the red-shirted man was shooting.
McMahon told the jury he believes the bar patrons know the identity of the red-shirted man but are protecting him. He noted that Evans remained on the scene and was handcuffed and questioned by a police sergeant after patrons identified him as one of the two men arguing.
When a search showed Evans wasn't carrying a weapon, McMahon said, police released him.
Evans surrendered and was charged Sept. 2.