The man who illegally transported the .45-caliber pistol that killed Philadelphia Police Sgt. Patrick McDonald is facing from three to five years in prison after a federal jury convicted him yesterday on weapons charges.
Stephen Lashley, 33, illegally purchased the weapon in South Carolina and then carried it to Philadelphia in mid-2007, the jury concluded. In 2008, another man used the semiautomatic handgun to shoot McDonald multiple times after a traffic stop.
Lashley did not react as the verdict was read in U.S. District Court. No evidence was offered to challenge the government's case, which included a recording of Lashley's telling his girlfriend that he expected to go to jail on a weapons charge.
The jury of six men and six women deliberated for less than an hour.
Watching the verdict were McDonald's father, mother, and sister, and about a half-dozen uniformed police officers from McDonald's unit.
Later, McDonald's father, Larry, said Lashley's conviction offered limited solace to the family.
"My son is not coming back. The only relief is that there is justice," said the retired Philadelphia fire captain.
Exactly how the handgun, manufactured by the Brazilian firearms maker Taurus, made its way from Lashley to the shooter, Daniel Giddings, 27, remains under investigation, U.S. Attorney Arlene D. Fisk said after the trial before Judge Michael M. Baylson. There is no evidence connecting Lashley and Giddings, she said.
The origin of the gun was traced by agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives as part of the investigation into McDonald's slaying. The gun was imported from Brazil through Miami and made its way to a pawnshop in Lancaster, S.C.
ATF agents determined that it was sold in 2006 to a man who then sold it to Lashley for money and marijuana. The same man purchased a second weapon for Lashley in 2007, and both were taken by Lashley to Philadelphia, the jury found.
Because Lashley had a criminal record for drug possession in New York state, it was a federal crime for him to possess or carry a handgun across state lines.
By Sept. 23, 2008, the Taurus was in the possession of Giddings, 27, who had been released from prison on parole a month earlier and already was wanted by police on a new criminal charge. On that day, Giddings was behind the wheel of a car McDonald pulled over at a traffic stop in North Philadelphia. During the confrontation, Giddings tried to flee on foot and McDonald, 30, gave chase. Giddings shot McDonald during the pursuit, and witnesses told police that they had seen Giddings stand over a fallen sergeant and shoot him multiple times.
Giddings fired at other officers responding to the scene and was fatally wounded during an exchange.
Lashley has been held in jail. He is to be sentenced in March.
In May, during a phone call recorded by the government - with his knowledge - Lashley told his girlfriend, "I always knew I'd have to do some years" for transporting the gun. After the verdict was announced, defense attorney Kenneth Edelin said: "The fact that was on the prison tape certainly didn't help" his client's case.