A South Philadelphia man was held for trial Tuesday on murder charges in a late-night shooting that the judge railed at as evidence of the widespread presence of guns on the street.
"This is something that should have been a case of disorderly conduct at best, but because someone introduces a gun into it, it escalates to murder," said Municipal Court Judge Patrick F. Dugan in the preliminary hearing for Saroeun Chhab, 28.
"Life is not a video game," added Dugan, an Army veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. "When are we going to stop carrying guns around the street?"
Chhab was held on a charge of murder involving the April 3, 2010, death of Ranny Thon, 24, shot as he was trying to settle a loud dispute among Chhab and guests at a get-together outside a house in a Cambodian enclave on Eighth Street near Moyamensing Avenue.
Chhab will also stand trial on attempted murder charges involving wounds to three of Thon's relatives who were hit by gunfire in the 2:30 a.m. incident.
Thon's cousins, sisters Sinni, 18, one of the wounded, and Sinna Thon, 20, testified and identified Chhab, who they knew by the street name "Jumbo," as the man they saw shoot their cousin.
Questioned by Assistant District Attorney Gail Fairman, Sinni Thon testified that her cousin and a half-dozen friends were having a get-together outside the Eighth Street house. Though she was inside, Thon testified, she went to the door when she heard loud arguing and cursing.
The disturbance lasted about 30 minutes and subsided, Thon said, only to be followed by another 15 minutes later.
Again she went to the door, Thon said, and this time saw Chhab trying to hit a woman who was involved in a quarrel with her boyfriend.
"My cousin, Ranny, tried to calm him [Chhab] down," Thon said. "He tried to be a peacemaker."
Identifying Chhab, Thon testified, "I saw him shoot my cousin right in front of my face."
Sinna Thon testified that she saw the same thing from her view at a second-story window.
In questioning the two witnesses, defense attorney Fred R. Goodman focused on the amount of drinking going on during the extended get-together. But while the sisters said a lot of people were drinking beer, both said they do not drink and were sober that night.