Shawn Yarbray's freedom may come down to what a jury believes about a tattoo, two moles, and a marathon game of Grand Theft Auto.
Jurors in the case of the stabbing and attempted robbery of Councilman David Oh begin their first full day of deliberations Thursday morning, a day after Yarbray, on trial for the May 2017 incident, took the witness stand. He didn't just testify that he was not the culprit — he also tried to demonstrate his innocence.
In an unusual move, attorney Samuel C. Stretton got permission from Common Pleas Court Judge Sierra Thomas Street to let Yarbray walk in front of the jury box displaying the tattoos of his initials on his right wrist and point to the two moles on his nose.
As Yarbray, 25, moved down the row, some of the seated jurors leaned forward in their seats to get a better look at the moles and tattoos. Stretton was trying to show that Oh, 58, who testified Tuesday, had not noticed any markings on the attacker's right hand or moles on his nose.
Oh, a Republican at-large councilman, had testified that he was certain Yarbray is the man who attacked him after demanding his cash, wallet, and car keys in front of his Southwest Philadelphia home on the evening of May 31.
Oh, who was stabbed in the chest and slashed on an arm, was released from the hospital the next day and identified Yarbray as the attacker from police file photos June 2.
Yarbray testified Wednesday that after seeing himself on news broadcasts as the suspect in the incident, he got a ride from his father to the police station at 55th and Pine Streets, where he turned himself in.
"Did you commit this crime?" asked Stretton in court Wednesday.
"No, I didn't," Yarbray replied in the same loud, clear voice he employed throughout his brief testimony.
He maintained that at the time of the stabbing he was playing an online video game, Grand Theft Auto, at a home in the 900 block of Conestoga Street in Kingsessing, where he had been staying with friends for about a month.
The home is about five blocks from the crime scene, said Tramaine Johnson, 27, who testified that he was playing the video game with Yarbray that evening at the home, where he also lives with his girlfriend.
"We stayed up all night," Yarbray testified.
"Those games are that enticing?" asked Stretton.
"Yes," his client responded.
On cross-examination, Assistant District Attorney Lori Edelman-Orem asked Yarbray if he had any records to prove that he had been online at the time of the attack. He replied that he did not.
When she asked why he had stayed up all night playing a video game when he worked as an on-call home health-care aide who could have had to report to an assignment the following morning, Yarbray shrugged.
"That's how my body works," he replied. "I don't get tired. I don't sleep much."
The jury of nine women and three men got the case shortly after 4 p.m. Wednesday after closing arguments, during which Edelman-Orem stressed that Oh testified he was certain that Yarbray was the man who had attacked him.
"Councilman Oh is confident, 100 percent confident, that he knows it is this defendant that committed the crimes," she said, pointing at Yarbray. "He doesn't have a doubt, and neither should you after hearing all the evidence."
Stretton countered in his closing statement that Oh's identification of Yarbray from a police photograph two days after the stabbing is shaky evidence at best and is not corroborated by any other evidence.
"There is nothing, nothing!" Stretton said, ticking off the lack of DNA, fingerprint, video, physical, or additional witness evidence. Yarbray being tried under such a scenario is a "nightmare" that raises enough reasonable doubt to warrant his acquittal, Stretton said.