PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A 13-year-old testifies to witnessing a murder, but can’t face the court. A 58-year-old woman testifies to witnessing another murder, and has one chilling wish: she hopes nobody hurts her. This is a typical day (yesterday), in courtroom 306, where murder preliminary hearings are heard.
Every Tuesday and Wednesday, murder is on the list, along with sadness, suffering, anger, frustration and fear. The 13-year-old murder witness was so scared he turned his back to the courtroom and he certainly could not look at the alleged killer, except as Prosecutor Jen Bretschneider points out, to identify him.
“And although he couldn’t look, his voice and his bravery in testifying about it allowed Judge Dugan to hold this individual for court on first degree murder,” Bretschneider says.
In the next hearing before Judge Patrick Dugan, the witness testified she is scared. Almost on cue, people aligned with the victim and defendant square off outside the courtroom, screaming at each other. The witness broke down on the witness stand. Only the intervention of police, deputies and court staff prevented physical violence outside courtroom 306.
Reported by Tony Hanson, KYW Newsradio 1060