Preliminary hearing held in Old City beating of alumnus

A hearing for the January killing of an alumnus was held today. A preliminary hearing for the beating and killing of Kevin Kless, a 2010 alumnus, was held today, April 4. Kless was killed Jan. 14

A hearing for the January killing of an alumnus was held today.

A preliminary hearing for the beating and killing of Kevin Kless, a 2010 alumnus, was held today, April 4.

Kless was killed Jan. 14 after being beaten on the steps of the Second Bank of the United States on Chestnut Street.

Police had said Kless was trying to pick up a cab when he shouted at a taxi. After the taxi briefly stopped, three men came out of a passing car and beat Kless. National Park Service rangers responded and administered first aid to Kless, who was pronounced dead later that night.

The 23 year-old graduated with a degree in risk management and insurance had recently returned to Philadelphia to start a job with the insurance broker Marsh.

Kerri Holland, Kless’s girlfriend, testified at the hearing today that she and Kless were walking arm-in-arm, and another female friend was walking just in front of them, when Kless was pulled away from her by two men who attacked from behind.

“The next thing I know Kevin is ripped from my right arm,” Holland said.

Holland testified that both Felix Carillo, 23, and Kenneth Santiago, 19 then began striking Kless on the sides of his head with “closed fists” possibly four to eight times as he attempted to fend off the blows.

She said the attack was followed by “a lull” of several seconds when a third man, who she couldn’t identify, walked up and delivered a single punch, leaving Kless to fall to the ground motionless.

“I checked for a pulse,” Holland said. “I pressed on his chest, it was instinctive, and then the forest rangers arrived.”

An assistant medical examiner testified, citing that, after the toxicology report, Kless’s alcohol level was .262. He added that the blow from the punch snapped Kless’s head around, ripping an artery.

Nearly a week after Kless was beaten, Carillo, Santiago, and Steven Ferguson, 20, were arrested on Friday, Jan. 20, and charged with murder.

Police, along with U.S. Marshalls, arrested the men after an investigation and tip led them to the suspects.

Leading up to the arrest, rewards totaling $20,000 were offered for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspects. The reward climbed to $20,000 after pledges from the city, the Fraternal Order of Police and the Citizens Crime Commission of Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Patrick F. Dugan set a continuation date for the preliminary hearing for May 14, after defense attorneys requested a continuance to prepare written motions following three hours of testimony. The judge will then determine the charges for trial.

Kless was involved on Main Campus and was a member of Temple’s chapter of Gamma Iota Sigma, a fraternity for students in the risk management and insurance field.

Dominique Johnson can be reached at

1 Comment

  1. This article is missing a few things. Actually during the testimony, the assistant medical examiner first stated that this is the first time he has seen something of this nature and he was “not an expert” on the subject. That he had to refer to another doctors research. He stated that the rip in the artery was “classically caused” by punches to the lower sides of the face, gesturing to his chin and that the head would have to turn in an “angular fashion,” turning his head up and away from where a punch would have landed. If the victim were hit on the left side of the chin, his head would have to turn up and to the right, tearing the artery on the side that was hit— the left side and vice versa. After being asked multiple times, the examiner said that the artery wouldn’t have ripped if the victim were either hit on the upper part of the face or head or if the victim fell on his side.

    When asked by one of the defense attorneys, the examiner went on to list the injuries on Kless from the beating, which were: multiple abrasions to the top of the head and scalp, a small abrasion on the left cheek, one on the right hand between the middle and index finger and one large abrasion behind the left ear on the back of his head, bruising on his chest and lastly, what killed him, the rip in the artery on the left side of his neck that delivers blood to the brain. When asked to present a, “close up” photo of the area that caused Kless’s death the examiner could not produce one.

    Holland, Kless’s girlfriend, during her testimony, when asked a few different times, said that during the entire night, in her presence, Kless only had two beers and didn’t “look or seem drunk” but as stated above, his blood alcohol level confirmed other wise, as it was was .262 over 3 times the legal limit. She also admitted to having six drinks her self that night, four of which she drank with in two hours, from 4 different bars, meaning she was not exactly sober during the attack. When asked multiple times, she stated that both Carillo and Santiago specifically hit Kless at the top of his head on both sides but he didn’t fight back and only tried to block the punches from the assailant but gestured that he did so with closed fists. Holland even said that after the lull, when Kless was hit for the last time she did not see him fall.
    During the third and last testimony, an FBI agent assigned to the case, read a written statement by the third assailant. The FBI agent said that the third person was “picked up” and taken to FBI headquarters at 3:30 p.m. When asked if the assailant was under arrest at this time the FBI agent reluctantly said “no he was not under arrest until 8 p.m.” that after giving the written statement the assailant was then given the option to give a statement by video and audio recording. The court would not allow the agent to disclosed what happened to the third assailant for the 5 hours that he was in FBI headquarters. At the end of the written statement by the third assailant the FBI agent quoted that the assailant said “I hit the guy, I hit the guy once, here, and gestured to his right cheek” the assailant also said that Kless fell, hitting his neck on a low wall in front of the bank building before hitting the ground.

    With the testimonies of the examiner, Holland and the FBI agent evidence points to the involuntary death of Kevin Kless. The examiner stated that, in order to damage the artery that caused Kless’s death one would have had to hit him on the lower side of his face. Holland’s testimony, said that the first two attackers hit Kless on the upper sides of his head, ruling out Carillo and Santiago, leaving the third assailant to blame. The examiner also said majority of the damage was done to Kless’s left artery, on his left side; in order to damage said artery one would have had to hit Kless on the left side of his lower face. The testimony from the FBI agent would then rule out the third attacker, as the FBI gestured that the third person hit Kless on his right cheek. The evidence presented in the court room was not only contradicting but proved that the tear in the artery, on the left side of Kless’s neck, may have been a result of the fight but was not caused by anyone who hit him during the altercation.

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