A recent conviction and delayed court hearing highlight the cumbersome length of court trials sometimes faced by student victims.
After more than a year and a half, the robber of alumnus Ben Nadell has been convicted on multiple charges. And while the recent graduate admitted the process was a bit drawn out, he said he’s happy with the results.
Nadell said that on Dec. 9, 2009, he was walking near Oxford and Willington streets when Tyrone Jenkins, then 18, grabbed a handgun out of his waist band. Nadell ran away after seeing the gun, starting a pursuit that lasted nearly two blocks as Jenkins threatened to shoot and kill him.
When the chase ended, Nadell called Temple police, who arrived at the scene soon after.
“They took me around the corner and sure enough there was the guy up against the wall in handcuffs. They asked me right there to identify him and I did,” Nadell said. “I couldn’t believe they caught the guy, but I had no idea what was to come.”
While catching Jenkins was almost instantaneous, convicting him proved to be a timely process.
“Every time the case got postponed, you have no idea what would happen and it was like no one cared, but people did, and people helped me to the very end,” Nadell said. “And I wasn’t going to give up because I knew if I didn’t do this, this guy would be back on the street.”
Because of Pennsylvania Criminal Procedure Rule 600, also known as the speedy trial statute, trials must be commenced in either 180 or 365 days from the filing of the complaint, regardless of whether the date is realistic.
“It is difficult to generalize about delay in particular types of trials,” said Joe Casey, criminal justice adjunct professor and retired prosecutor for the Philadelphia DA’s Office. “Delay is not Philadelphia-specific, but it is more pronounced here than in most large urban centers. There are multiple reasons for this, with the courts, defendants and prosecution all responsible for some of the delay.”
After almost a dozen court appearances, a July trial found Jenkins guilty of carrying firearms without a license, carrying firearms on a public street, possessing an instrument of crime, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and terroristic threats.
Jenkins has been sentenced to 11-and-a-half to 23 months of confinement at Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia as of Aug. 24, according to the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County criminal docket.
Nadell, a criminal justice major while at Temple, graduated in May and now studies law at Rutgers University.
Ian Hirst-Hermans, a senior advertising major, is still caught up in a similar court process.
Last Halloween, Hirst-Hermans got in an altercation with Richard M. Dodds, a then 21-year-old Montgomery County Community College student, at a party at 17th and Diamond streets. When Hirst-Hermans exited the party, Dodds was waiting outside for him with a gun.
“He pulled out a gun out and shot me once through the chest. He didn’t run or anything for whatever reason,” Hirst-Hermans said.
Hirst-Hermans attended a pretrial in November, at which an Aug. 29 trial date was set. When that date came, the Assistant District Attorney called and told him the trial had been pushed back six months, to April 16.
“I’m not sure if it will get delayed again or not but the way she spoke about how many cases there were, it just sounded like it’s a huge mess,” Hirst-Hermans said. “She spoke of cases she had that were two or three years old and still hadn’t been dealt with.”
“It’s very normal because of the sheer number of cases in Philly,” said Tasha Jamerson, director of communications for District Attorney Seth Williams. “It’s usually a year to two before cases get to trial. If you’re talking about a death penalty or something, it’s even longer. Because of a city this size, it’s just the way it is, unfortunately.”
Hirst-Hermans said the delay is affecting his time at Temple, too.
“I had an anxious summer knowing that the first day of school was going to be this trial rather than my first day of my senior year of college,” Hirst-Hermans said. “Now it’s frustrating that it’s going to be dragging on. It’s kind of hard not to think about it every day and it’s just more time to think about what’s going to happen.”
Becky Kerner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.