Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Jury set to deliberate racially tinged double murder

A Philadelphia Common Pleas Court jury is to begin deliberations Thursday in the trial of two Tacony men charged in a racially tinged double murder in 2007.

A Philadelphia Common Pleas Court jury is to begin deliberations Thursday in the trial of two Tacony men charged in a racially tinged double murder in 2007.

Neither Gerald Drummond, 26, nor Robert McDowell, 28, took the stand in his own defense before testimony ended Wednesday. Both face possible death sentences if found guilty of first-degree murder in the execution-style shootings of Damien Holloway, 27, and Timothy Clark, 15.

Before beginning work on a verdict, the jurors will hear closing arguments from Michael E. Wallace, Drummond's attorney, Gary Server, McDowell's lawyer, and Assistant District Attorney Carlos Vega. Judge Renee Cardwell Hughes then will instruct the 12-member panel in the relevant law.

The trial has fractured the neighborhood around the killing site - the 6900 block of Vandike Street - with its theme of race-motivated violence and pervasive witness intimidation.

The jury Wednesday watched the last minutes in the victims' lives, captured at 2:16 a.m. on July 13, 2007 by a security camera inside a 7-Eleven store at Disston and Vandike Streets.

Holloway, who was African American, ran his own lawn-cutting business, and Clark, who was white, worked for him. At the time, Holloway lived at Clark's house.

After buying snacks at 7-Eleven, the two were walking the half-block home when, the prosecution alleges, they were accosted by Drummond and McDowell, both of whom are white.

There was bad blood between Drummond and Holloway over race, but also because Holloway had a child with Drummond's sister.

Drummond allegedly ordered Holloway and Clark to kneel on the sidewalk, hands clasped behind their heads, and told McDowell to shoot them. When McDowell said he couldn't do it, Drummond allegedly took the revolver, shot the teen in the back of the head and Holloway in the face as he tried to run.

The gun was never recovered, and no blood, DNA or other forensic evidence could be found linking McDowell and Drummond to the murders. But by September 2008, detectives testified, the men had told enough friends for police to arrest them.

A procession of those friends, mostly heroin addicts with criminal records, testified against the pair - reluctantly, tearfully, frightened for their lives.

Two were so terrorized the judge had to clear the courtroom of spectators. And on Saturday, Michael Drummond, 24, Gerald's brother, was charged with threatening a witness last week in the Criminal Justice Center.

Several witnesses said Gerald Drummond boasted of killing Holloway for disrespecting his sister and Clark because he was "a loose end that had to be tied up."

Wallace argued that Drummond had an alibi: He was home with his wife, child, mother and others at the time of the shootings. None, however, testified at trial.

Server focused on two witnesses who said they saw a black man running down Vandike Street moments after hearing the shots. He also elicited information about another white resident, Robert Ford, who had expressed anger at Holloway for having sex with his wife.

Homicide Detective Thomas Gaul testified that he tried to track down African American men likely to have been in the neighborhood that night, but that those he found had alibis. As for Ford, Gaul said, no evidence or witnesses linked him to the killings.