Carl Slaton Jr. had done his job.
The Bensalem bartender had refused to serve a drunken patron and finally had told him to leave the Salute Restaurant & Bar when the customer grew combative.
Minutes later, Slaton and coworker William Sully III took a cigarette break outside the bar on Knights Road. The evicted patron, Slaton said, was in a large pickup truck pointed in their direction, revving the engine.
Annoyed, Slaton raised his middle finger.
Seconds later, the truck barreled toward the two men, Slaton testified yesterday. Slaton tried to push Sullo aside, then ran out of the way, the truck missing him by "inches."
Sullo, however, was fatally crushed, pinned between the crumpled front end of the truck and the stone facade of the bar entrance.
"Let me go," Slaton said he heard Sullo say, weeping at the memory. Sullo, 30, of Northeast Philadelphia, was pronounced dead at Frankford Hospital-Torresdale Campus.
Slaton recounted the tragedy yesterday at a preliminary hearing for Jose Maldonado-Luzuriaga, accused of homicide in Sullo's Nov. 29 death.
Maldonado-Luzuriaga, 35, an undocumented immigrant from Ecuador, was ordered held for trial on charges of homicide, attempted homicide, recklessly endangering another person, and causing a fatal accident while not licensed.
"I just want to see justice done," the victim's father, William Sullo Jr., said after the hearing before District Judge Joseph Falcone.
Slaton was the only witness called. There was no testimony about Maldonado-Luzuriaga's immigrant status. Chief Deputy District Attorney Robin Twombly declined to say whose truck he had been driving or for whom he had been working.
"That's part of the investigation," Twombly said.
Slaton said Maldonado-Luzuriaga had entered the bar around 8:30 p.m. and was served one beer before bartenders deemed him too drunk to have more.
After loudly arguing with the bartenders, Slaton said, Maldonado-Luzuriaga got into a shouting and pushing match with two other Spanish-speaking patrons before being told to leave.
The dispute continued in the parking lot, Slaton said, with Maldonado-Luzuriaga drunkenly swinging at and missing the other patrons and trying to force his way into their vehicle.
Finally, Slaton said, Maldonado-Luzuriaga got into the pickup truck, circled the parking lot two or three times, then trained the vehicle on the bar entrance.
"I thought he was just trying to scare us," Slaton said.