In a courtroom at the Criminal Justice Center yesterday, State Rep. John Myers heard words he had been dreading.
In closing arguments in the trial of Kenneth Tuck, the man accused of kidnapping John Myers' son, Shamari Taylor, and a woman, Assistant District Attorney Gonen Haklay said Taylor "was tortured to death."
"Mr. Taylor is not coming back through this door or any other door," Haklay.
A few minutes later outside the court, Myers, visibly shaken, said: "This is the first time I heard them say he was dead." Myers said that he had not been optimistic that Taylor would be found alive.
"At this point, I just want to know where my son is," said Myers, who represents parts of the city's Germantown and Mount Airy sections.
Taylor, 26, has not been seen since last August when he and Caren Murphy, 22, were abducted by several men, blindfolded and forced into van in West Philadelphia. Murphy was released within hours. She has testified that she heard Taylor screaming in anguish and pleading for his life.
Earlier in the trial, Murphy testified that all but two of the kidnappers were masked. She said she recognized Tuck, 34, because she had a sexual relationship with him for three months when she was 15. She had said she also recognized Tuck's voice.
Tuck is charged with two counts of kidnapping, two counts of robbery and related charges.
In his closing statements yesterday, Tuck's attorney, Christopher Warren, said his client was misidentified by Murphy.
"She has not seen Kenneth Tuck in six years," Warren said. He said Murphy testified that Tuck had a goatee when the kidnapping occurred, but two weeks later when Tuck was arrested in Camden, Warren said the man had a full beard.
"I suggest to you that he didn't grow a full beard in two weeks," Warren told the jury.
Warren told the jurors that they heard witness testimony that Tuck was at home playing cards at the time of the kidnapping.
The kidnapping took place on a dark night and Murphy was scared, Warren said.
"She mistakenly thought she saw Kenneth Tuck," Warren said.
Haklay said Murphy identified Tuck because she knew him well.
"She was in perfect position to have seen him and to have heard him," Haklay said.
Tuck "is a man who was important to her life for three intense months," Haklay said.
"He instantly recognized her face and her voice. Did she recognize his face and his voice?" Haklay said.
Countering the defense assertion that Tuck could not grow his goatee into a full beard in two weeks, Haklay said it was not unlikely that Tuck could grow a full beard in that time.
Tuck suffered two gunshot wounds before he was arrested in Camden. Haklay said it was likely that others involved the kidnapping shot Tuck because his photograph was in newspapers.
"He was a liability because his face was in the news," Haklay said.
Noting that Tuck was in New York and New Jersey after the kidnapping, Haklay said jurors could use that fact to suggest that was guilty.
Jurors deliberated for a few hours before being sent home for the day, the District Attorney's Office said.