Gerard Grandzol had surrendered his wallet and car keys to the teenage gunman and an accomplice, and he had just one request:
"I got my 2-year-old in the car," he said. "Let me get my daughter out of the car."
"I said no," the gunman responded. "No."
Then, two gunshots erupted.
Grandzol collapsed. And two sounds could be heard: The 38-year-old married father moaning on the ground. And a little girl in the car, wailing.
This grim scene that unfolded around 8 p.m. Sept. 7 shocked the Spring Garden neighborhood, and the wider region. On Wednesday, it was vividly and chillingly replayed for Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge David C. Shuter, through a rare surveillance video, with audio, that captured the final moments and words of Grandzol, a popular community activist.
Prosecutors said it was the first time they had video evidence of a crime that included a soundtrack. The impact of images and sound was so powerful that they did not play the video in open court at the preliminary hearing for the accused killers, brothers Marvin Roberts, 17, and Maurice Roberts, 21, who have pleaded not guilty.
The judge, prosecutors, and defense lawyers left the packed courtroom to watch the video in an anteroom. Then, the Roberts brothers watched it in court on a laptop computer only they could see. City homicide detective James Dunlap read aloud from a transcript of the video soundtrack.
After watching it, Shuter ordered the brothers held for trial for murder, attempted carjacking, robbery, and related gun charges in the killing, which allegedly took place after Grandzol parked his car near his home in the 1500 block of Melon Street.
Assistant District Attorney Edward Cameron, prosecuting the case with Joanne Pescatore, said afterward that they did not air the video for the whole courtroom to see because they did not want to subject Grandzol's devastated family to it.
"You can hear the victim's voice, how calm he was, how he gave his wallet," Pescatore said. "Everything you think a victim should do, he did, and he got killed anyway."
Prosecutors also presented two other homicide detectives who outlined statements from the defendants after their Sept. 9 arrests.
In them, the brothers said they left their house in the 3300 block of North Sydenham Street in Tioga that evening and took the Broad Street Subway from Erie Avenue "to Center City to rob somebody." Maurice Roberts had a 9mm semiautomatic pistol stashed in his backpack.
The brothers got off at Fairmount Avenue, walked a short distance and spotted Grandzol parking his car. Police said Grandzol had just returned from Lemon Hill, where he played Frisbee with his 2-year-old daughter and their dog.
Marvin Roberts reached into his older brother's backpack, grabbed the gun and walked up and confronted Grandzol.
After the shooting, the statements say, the brothers fled with Grandzol's wallet, which contained $60. Maurice Roberts got $20 and Marvin the rest.
The defense attorneys – F. Michael Medway for Maurice Roberts, and Roger M. Schrading and Andrea Konow for Marvin Roberts – argued that the brothers should not be held on a charge more serious than second-degree or felony murder.
"You heard the testimony," Medway told the judge. "This was a robbery, an attempted robbery, that went horribly bad, but it's no higher than second degree."
Shuter, however, agreed with prosecutors that a jury should decide the degree of homicide.
During the hearing, Grandzol's wife, Kristin, and other family members wept as they listened to testimony. The family declined to speak with reporters afterward.
"I'm a mother myself, and the widow in this particular case has two very, very young children, and one of them was in the car at the time of this incident," said Pescatore. "As you imagine, it's going to be a really, really hard road for them."
Peter Capolino, the Grandzols' neighbor from across the street, described Kristin Grandzol as "holding up amazingly well. Obviously, she goes in and out of sadness, great sadness, but she's taking care of the 2½-year-old and the 12-week-old … wonderfully."
Capolino called Sept. 7 "the worst night of my life" but said he and other neighbors have cooked for and supported the Grandzols.
"I think the neighborhood has responded in amazing ways," said Capolino, describing a Halloween party the neighborhood threw for its many young children. "No one's afraid, everyone's sticking together, the neighborhood is wonderful. It's an amazing place to be."