The double slaying of 15-year-old Timothy Clark and family friend Damien Holloway, 27, on July 13, 2007, was among three deaths and six shootings on an extraordinarily violent evening during one of Philadelphia's most deadly summers.
The early-morning execution-style killings in Tacony were particularly puzzling. There was a considerable difference in the victims' ages, and Clark was white and Holloway black.
Yesterday, a Philadelphia judge heard witnesses testify that Holloway was shot to death by Gerald Drummond because of his race and because he'd "disrespected" Drummond's sister, with whom Holloway had a child and a volatile relationship.
"The [racist epithet] got what he deserved," Drummond told her, testified Amy Rudnitskas, who said she had two children with Drummond's older brother.
As for Clark, Rudnitskas, testifying between sobs, said Drummond told her "the little boy" had to die because he was a witness, "a loose end."
"Timmy was a casualty of war," Drummond said, according to Rudnitskas.
The chilling account of the slayings played out yesterday in a tense, emotional three-hour hearing. When it ended, Drummond, 24, and Robert McDowell, 26, were held for trial on murder and conspiracy charges by Municipal Court Judge James M. DeLeon.
"I knew this was racial," said Holloway's father, Eugene Holloway, after the hearing. "I know from what I've heard from them [Drummond and McDowell]."
"How can someone do this because of the color of his skin?" added Bette Clark, Timothy's mother.
Clark described Holloway as a family friend who lived in her house and had asked her son to help in his lawn-cutting business.
With no witnesses to the killings and no murder weapon recovered, Drummond and McDowell were incriminated by four witnesses: friends and relatives who testified the pair told them of the shootings and motives.
Several times Drummond - and two witnesses - had to be warned by DeLeon to stop trying to communicate across the courtroom.
At one point Drummond looked at witness Nicole Penrose and mouthed: "Why are you doing this to me?"
"Why did you do it?" replied Penrose, a childhood friend who said Drummond was "like my brother."
Later, after three warnings by deputy sheriffs, DeLeon threatened to have Drummond and McDowell bound and gagged because they allegedly were turning around, glaring at and trying to intimidate the Clark and Holloway families.
"It was making me feel uncomfortable," said Bette Clark afterward, referring to Drummond. "I just can't understand this. He knew Timmy, he knew our family."
Clark wept when she heard how her son and Holloway were forced to kneel on the sidewalk in the 6900 block of Vandike Street, hands behind their heads, and then each shot once in the head.
Clark spoke warmly of her son and Holloway. Clark said the two went out to the 7-Eleven around the corner to buy snacks for the next day's lawn jobs.
The witnesses presented by Assistant District Attorney Christine Wechsler said Drummond and McDowell were angry that Drummond's sister Andrea had become involved with and had a child with a black man.
At some point earlier in 2007, witnesses testified, Drummond and Holloway got into a fight that Holloway lost. Holloway's brother then took on and beat Drummond.
Witnesses testified that on July 13, 2007, McDowell and Drummond were out on the Tacony streets looking for Holloway. McDowell allegedly brought a revolver.
About 2:20 a.m., witnesses said the pair told them, the two saw Holloway and Clark walking home on Vandike Street, cornered them, and killed them.
Penrose said Drummond told her the September after the murders that McDowell was supposed to have been the shooter but didn't have the nerve to pull the trigger, "so I had to handle it."
In querying the witnesses, defense attorneys Allan J. Sagot and Daniel H. Greene questioned their credibility, eliciting the fact that all were drug users and that several were heavily addicted when the events occurred.
Witness Erica Marrero, who said her sister-in-law is McDowell's fiancee, tried to recant her statement to homicide detectives, contending detectives badgered her over 12 hours into implicating the two men.
Wechsler, however, argued that Marrero also signed every page of the statement and initialed each answer after reading it.