PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Now that the number of defendants in the Piazza double murder case has been reduced from six to three (see previous stories), jury selection is underway again.
The judge says he would like to seat a panel and begin opening statements on Monday.
Two people were murdered at the “Piazza at Schmidt’s” apartment building in Northern Liberties in 2009.
In the last of the pretrial motions, Philadelphia judge Jeffrey Minehart denied a defense motion to throw out an alleged confession of one of the accused triggermen, Antonio Wright.
Wright’s defense lawyer, Thomas McGill, argued that when Wright was in the interrogation room, detectives wore him down with nine hours of questioning to get him to admit shooting one of the two murder victims.
In McGill’s words, “There is no greater example of a coerced, involuntary statement.”
Detective Jack Cummings, who preferred to call it the “interview” room, told prosecutor Carlos Vega that Wright was not pressured and was given his Miranda warning after Wright was shown video surveillance of the murders.
Another assistant district attorney, Jennifer Selber, added three defendants to the witness list, all of whom pleaded guilty this week. But sources indicate they don’t think another alleged triggerman will testify.
After Donnell Murchison’s guilty plea (see related story), Judge Minehart sentenced him to two consecutive life prison terms, with no chance of parole.
Reported by Steve Tawa, KYW Newsradio 1060