Fishtown family reacts after ballpark murder mistrial

PBALL28 - Po­lice handout photo - An ar­rest war­rant has be ob­tain for Fran­cis Kirch­ner 28/W/M. Any­one with in­form­a­tion on the where­abouts of Fran­cis Kirch­ner is asked to con­tact the Hom­icide Unit at 215-686-3334 or Dial 9-1-1.. He is one of the parties al­legedly in­volved in the Murder of Dav­id Sale 22 year old male from the 100 block of Green Street in Lans­dale, PA. Dav­id Sale in­curred trauma to the head caused by be­ing beaten and kicked. This in­cid­ent oc­curred on Sat­urday, Ju­ly 25th, 2009 at ap­prox­im­ately 7:09 PM on the 700 block of Pat­tis­on Av­en­ue.

The fam­ily of Fran­cis Kirch­ner, the 30-year-old Fishtown man charged with first-de­gree murder in the beat­ing death of a man out­side of Cit­izen’s Bank Park in Ju­ly 2009, said they were hope­ful after a judge de­clared a mis­tri­al last week.

“We are go­ing to face this to­geth­er as a unit, and ob­vi­ously we think that Frankie had noth­ing to do with this and we are go­ing to sup­port him,” said Tara Kirch­ner, the ac­cused man’s sis­ter and also a Fishtown res­id­ent.

Com­mon Pleas Court Judge Shel­ley Robins New ruled on Tues­day, Sept. 20 that the tri­al could not con­tin­ue be­cause one wit­ness offered in­crim­in­at­ing evid­ence that hadn’t been presen­ted to Kirch­ner’s de­fense at­tor­ney, the Phil­adelphia In­quirer re­por­ted.

That wit­ness, Ry­an Tulino, a friend of the vic­tim, Dav­id Sale Jr., iden­ti­fied Kirch­ner as be­ing re­spons­ible for what pro­sec­utors al­lege was a fatal kick to the head.

Kirch­ner is the only one of three men charged in Sale’s death fa­cing a first-de­gree murder charge. His at­tor­ney ar­gued that he was not present when Sale was beaten.

Charles Bowers, 37, of Ox­ford Circle and James Groves, 48, of Kens­ing­ton, are fa­cing third-de­gree murder charges that stem from a drunk­en fight fol­low­ing a Ju­ly 25, 2009 Phil­lies game.

The three men were part of a chartered bus trip that left from the now-closed Moe’s Tav­ern in Fishtown earli­er that day.

Sale, of Lans­dale, Pa., was with of a sep­ar­ate group that was at­tend­ing the game as part of a bach­el­or’s party.

Both groups were ejec­ted from Mc­Fad­den’s, a bar at the ball­park, and a fight en­sued in the park­ing lot.

 Tulino’s sur­prise testi­mony ad­ded to that of an­oth­er wit­ness, who also iden­ti­fied Kirch­ner as be­ing re­spons­ible for kick­ing Sale in the head.

Shortly after de­clar­ing a mis­tri­al, New is­sued a gag or­der for all parties in­volved and said she would de­cide if there would be a new tri­al after an Oct. 18 hear­ing. Kirch­ner’s law­yer op­posed an­oth­er tri­al on the grounds of double jeop­ardy — be­ing tried for the same crime twice — ac­cord­ing the In­quirer. 

Tara Kirch­ner said her fam­ily took the mis­tri­al as a sig­nal that the pro­sec­utors in the case are dis­or­gan­ized and “scroun­ging around for facts so they can have some­body to blame.”

Still, the Kirch­ners were hope­ful that a tri­al would prove her broth­er was not in­volved in Sale’s death.

“We were hop­ing that, through the tri­al, it would show that he is in­no­cent,” said Kirch­ner. “He’s not the mon­ster that he’s been made out to be.”

Kirch­ner said that, as a vic­tim of vi­ol­ence per­son­ally, she feels em­pathy for Sale’s fam­ily — her fianc&ea­cute; and the fath­er of her son, Kev­in Tanczak, was killed fol­low­ing a bar fight in 2006.

Since then, she has worked for num­ber of anti-vi­ol­ence groups, an ef­fort that she said her broth­er, a milk truck driver, joined in.

Ac­cord­ing to court re­cords, Kirch­ner was placed on pro­ba­tion fol­low­ing a 2007 con­vic­tion for simple as­sault and reck­lessly en­dan­ger­ing an­oth­er per­son. He has been held at the city’s Cur­ran-From­hold Cor­rec­tion­al Fa­cil­ity since Ju­ly 27, 2009 in con­nec­tion with Sale’s death, and his sis­ter said last week that they not heard of any plans to re­lease him. 

Fol­low­ing her broth­er’s ar­rest, Kirch­ner said her fam­ily en­dured har­ass­ment, in­clud­ing death threats, and had to re­move their phone num­ber from pub­lic list­ings.

They’re hop­ing the new tri­al will set Fran­cis Kirch­ner — fa­cing a pos­sible life sen­tence — free and clear his name.

“We just hope a jury will see what we see, and I don’t think we’re blinded by love,” said Kirch­ner.••

Re­port­er Bri­an Rademaekers can be reached at 215 354 3039 or

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