5 years later, justice for DJ murdered in South Street ice cream shop
More than five years have passed since Tom Watson, 36, was fatally shot inside a Häagen-Dazs. On Friday, after more than 10 days of trial before Common Pleas Court Judge Steven R. Geroff and five hours of deliberation, a jury found four Philadelphia men guilty of his murder.
More than five years have passed since disc jockey Tom Watson, 36, was fatally shot on a Saturday morning inside the Häagen-Dazs ice cream store on South Street near Second Street.
On Friday, after more than 10 days of trial before Common Pleas Court Judge Steven R. Geroff and five hours of deliberation, a jury convicted four Philadelphia men of his murder.
Josephe Murray, 24, who shot Watson, and Larry Nelson, 52, who planned the robbery of Watson, were convicted of first-degree murder and robbery, and face life in prison. Lonnie Robinson, 45, a friend of Watson's who tipped off Nelson that the DJ could be a robbery target, and Clarence Pone, 47, who helped wrestle Watson into the store and onto the ground, were convicted of second-degree murder and robbery.
All four denied the charges. Only Pone took the witness stand, acknowledging that he was at the scene but saying he had nothing to do with Watson's murder.
Jurors viewed surveillance video taken from cameras outside and inside the ice cream parlor, and heard testimony that painted a grim picture of an attempted robbery that went awry.
Around 3 a.m. on May 11, 2013, as a mist dusted South Street, Watson's driver and friend, Jimmy Weisbrod, helped him carry his DJ equipment from the trunk of Weisbrod's Lincoln Town Car to the front door of the store, which Watson lived above and which could only be entered through the store.
Weisbrod, a Vietnam veteran with lingering wounds, limped to the door behind Watson, who wore a cap with a ponytail peeking out the back. Weisbrod put down the equipment and shook Watson's hand.
Watson performed regularly under the name DJ Fenix at local clubs, including Copabanana at 40th and Spruce Streets, and was a cook at Tavern 222 on South Street. He also sold marijuana and cocaine on the side, which attracted the would-be robbers.
Two men followed Watson, watching as he opened the door. As Weisbrod walked back to his car, the men pushed Watson inside the store, wrestling him to the orange ceramic-tile floor. Watson dug his fingers into one attacker's back, collecting skin under his nails.
Weisbrod closed the trunk and hit the key remote lock once. He looked back and spotted some of the equipment still on the sidewalk. He went over and peered inside the store window, and saw chairs and tables toppled over.
When he grabbed the door handle, the 6-foot-5 Pone confronted him and told him to leave.
Inside, Murray was whipping Watson with the revolver, breaking his nose and fracturing his jaw. He shot him in the left chest and dragged him toward the basement door.
Meanwhile, Weisbrod got into his car and started driving while Pone ran up American Street. Weisbrod spun around the corner and pulled back to the Häagen-Dazs.
Murray shot Watson again at close range, striking him in the left ear. Weisbrod heard the gunshots and moved toward the front door. Murray, heavyset with braids and a teardrop tattoo on his face, walked past him.
Weisbrod went into the store, peeked over the counter at the floor, now stained in blood, and saw his friend.
Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 28.