By Molly Daly
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Philadelphia man, charged along with his father in what prosecutors called a murderous “road rage” attack on a pedestrian, has been acquitted of the most serious charges against him.
Gerard Shaffer Jr. and his father, Gerard Sr., had been charged with third-degree murder in the death of 54-year-old Mark Wallace in April 2010. The father died before the trial began (see related story).
According to witnesses, the elder Shaffer blew his horn as Wallace crossed in front of them at an intersection in Northeast Philadelphia. Words were exchanged, and the confrontation became violent when both Shaffers got out of the car.
Prosecutor Peter Lim says the younger Shaffer’s actions fit the criteria for murder:
“The witnesses had said that the defendent had grabbed the decedent in a bear hug, and then had picked him up and dropped him over his shoulders behind him. The physical injury, according to the medical examiner, corroborated a ‘propulsion’ to the ground, rather than a fall to the ground.”
But the jury today acquitted Shaffer of murder and conspiracy, convicting him of involuntary manslaughter.
“I think this is a clear message from this jury that Mr. Shaffer had no intent to hurt Mr. Wallace, had no intent for Mr. Wallace’s death to result from this incident,” said defense attorney Coley Reynolds afterward.
Sentencing was scheduled for March.