The North Philadelphia man allegedly killed by a skinhead wanting to prove his status as a white supremacist was on drugs and alcohol on the day he was gunned down, a deputy medical examiner told a Common Pleas Court jury yesterday.
Although the examiner, Ian Hood, had been called by the prosecution, defense attorney J. Michael Farrell leaped on his testimony to punch holes in the case against his client, Thomas Gibison, 35, of Newark, Del.
Gibison is accused of coming to Philadelphia on April 16, 1989, to kill an African American - in this case, Aaron Wood, 35 - in order to be able to wear a spiderweb tattoo on his left elbow. In some white-supremacist circles, such a tattoo indicates that the bearer has killed an African American.
Hood said that Wood had traces of cocaine in his system and enough alcohol to be "moderately intoxicated."
Farrell seized on the testimony to back up the defense's contention of what happened to Wood: that he was killed in a dispute over drugs.
Farrell has said he intends to call a witness who saw three black men running away from the scene the night of the shooting and three former girlfriends of Wood's who will talk about his dealing drugs. He said at least one would talk about a drug debt Wood owed.
Yesterday, Farrell continued to explore this line of reasoning, asking Tyrone Wood, a younger brother of the victim: "Do you know if your brother was selling drugs?"
"Did you know [your brother] was threatened by a hit man he owed money that he never paid?" went another question.
Wood's slaying remained unsolved until 2006, when federal agents, working on a firearms case in Delaware, picked up tips of a related unsolved Philadelphia murder by skinheads.
Philadelphia police homicide detective Leon Lubiejewski, one of a half-dozen witnesses called yesterday, testified that federal agents contacted him last year to check details provided in the case.