On Jan. 13, 56-year-old Kim Jones—one of the most beloved members of the Yorktown community, which lies southeast of Main Campus—was murdered on the northwest corner of 12th and Jefferson streets.
More than eight months after the incident, the resulting case has yet to reach a trial. According to court documents, the case’s pre-trial conference—where defense attorney Michael Coard will have a chance to review discovery, or information to be presented at trial—has been rescheduled five times since April 1.
Defendant Randolph Sanders remains in custody at Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Holmesburg, according to court documents. He was arrested after confessing to the murder Feb. 1, police said.
Cameron Kline, a spokesman for Philadelphia’s District Attorney office, said these delays are not unusual, especially considering the magnitude of the case.
“That is not uncommon,” Kline said of the rescheduling. “This is a homicide case, which makes it a complicated case … there’s a lot of evidence to be reviewed, and a lot of material to be looked over.”
“Delays doesn’t mean nothing is happening,” he added. “A lot of it is scheduling conflicts. … There have been discussions between the District Attorney’s Office and the defense attorney.”
Coard is an assistant adjunct professor in the university’s department of geography and urban studies. He could not be reached for comment.
One Yorktown resident continues to follow the case closely: Fred Tookes, the pastor of the The Original Apostolic Faith Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, at 1512 N. Broad St. on the south edge of Main Campus.
He said he knew Jones very well when they were growing up; both attended Harrison Elementary School at 11th and Jefferson streets—one of eight schools the city’s School Reform Commission approved to close in 2012.
“I used to have a crush on her,” Tookes said. “Then as we got older, we slowly lost touch with one another.”
Tookes added he has been checking on the case because he is a “trial observer” for the Yorktown community. He said he hasn’t been to all five pre-trial conferences, because he was witnessing a case involving six Philadelphia police officers where each was accused of robbing and beating up drug suspects. All six had federal corruption charges dropped and were acquitted in federal court May 16.
Because of that case and several others, Tookes said people might not show up if the case continues to be delayed.
“That’s if people remember,” he said. “I expect them to be there, but I can’t be so sure. …. Our attention span isn’t like it was 20 years ago.”
He added he expects parishioners from Jones’ church, the Church of the Advocate, to be present if the case reaches a trial.
Kline said he can’t say whether the case’s next pre-trial conference will be rescheduled again, but hopes the proceeding will occur as planned.
Tookes said he is still interested in how the case will conclude—he wonders if both the defense and persecution are working toward a plea deal instead of a trial.
“I’ve never seen that many hearings, with nothing to come out of it,” he said.
The next pre-trial conference is scheduled for Sept. 22 at 9 a.m. before Judge Benjamin Lerner.
Steve Bohnel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Steve_Bohnel.