After more than two days of deliberations, a Common Pleas Court jury yesterday found a North Philadelphia teen guilty of all charges in the shooting of a Philadelphia Housing Authority police officer with an assault-type rifle at a Germantown apartment building.
Zahir Boddy-Johnson, 17, was convicted of attempted murder, aggravated assault, and weapons offenses in the Feb. 17, 2008, shooting of Officer Craig Kelley inside a security booth at the Queen Lane Apartments at Queen Lane and Pulaski Avenue.
"This is vindication," the still-recovering PHA officer said of the verdict. "You don't bring that powerful of a weapon, you don't shoot at somebody three times, you don't reposition yourself to get off two more shots, if you're not trying to kill someone. I am glad the jury saw it my way."
Kelley, 50, testified that on the night he was shot, he was in the booth when someone knocked on the door about 10 p.m.
Kelley said he opened the door and saw a masked man pointing an assault rifle at him from about six feet away. Before Kelley could shut the door, he said, the gunman fired, striking him in the abdomen.
He said the shot, which penetrated his body-armor vest, struck him with such force that it spun him around and knocked him to the floor. The gunman then fired more shots in his direction, Kelley said.
Boddy-Johnson, of the 2300 block of Diamond Street, was stopped by a police officer near the crime scene a few minutes after the attack, and the rifle and a bag of bullets and other items linked to him were found in the vicinity.
A few hours after the attack, Boddy-Johnson confessed that he shot Kelley in an attempt to steal his laptop computer and service weapon.
Assistant District Attorney Deborah Nixon said Boddy-Johnson faces 321/2 to 65 years in prison when he is sentenced by Judge Gwendolyn N. Bright on July 29.
"The jury verdict suggests to me that the people recognize that this violence against police will not be tolerated anymore," Nixon said.
That Boddy-Johnson shot the PHA officer was never debated; defense attorney Michael Parkinson conceded as much during trial.
At issue was whether Boddy-Johnson intended to kill Kelley and whether the more serious charge of attempted murder was warranted.
Parkinson argued that his client was not guilty of attempted murder.
"What you have was a botched robbery," he said.
The prosecution disagreed.
"In this case, Officer Kelley was nearly assassinated," Nixon said.
Boddy-Johnson planned the attack, Nixon said.
"He practiced with that assault rifle for days in the park and he crept up on him in his booth. . . . This was a horrific crime," Nixon said.
During the trial, Nixon presented extensive physical evidence, including the booth's bullet-resistant glass, which was heavily damaged by gunshots; the tattered and bloody clothing Kelley had been wearing; and the SKS rifle the gunman used.
"That was shocking," Kelley said of seeing his clothing in court. "I hadn't seen it since that night when they cut it off of me."
Kelley said that the bullet remains in his abdomen and that he suffers from chronic pain from the gunshot wound and from injuries he suffered when he fell after being shot.
He said he remains on desk work and that he does not know when he will be able to return to regular duty.
Kelley said he keeps on a key chain an inert bullet of the type that struck him, to remind himself and others of the dangers officers face.
"I use it to show the guys what we're up against on the street these days," Kelley said. "They are no longer just bringing handguns. We're going up against rifles, rifles that can kill officers."