An attorney for accused “Mayfair tire slasher” David Toledo tried to throw Toledo’s former neighbor under the bus.
Municipal Court Judge Felice R. Stack last Thursday ordered Toledo, 44, to stand trial on more than 60 charges including criminal mischief, possessing an instrument of crime and filing false reports to police. Toledo allegedly punctured the tires of 49 unattended vehicles in his neighborhood, including his own, during a six-month spree of vandalism that concluded with his April arrest.
But defense attorney William J. Brennan argued during Thursday’s preliminary hearing that Toledo’s neighbor, Anthony Hainsworth, should be the one facing charges. Hainsworth, a self-appointed neighborhood patroller, had the opportunity and the tool to commit the crimes, according to Brennan.
“If you’re going to hold somebody (for trial), hold Hainsworth,” the defender said. “Every night, he was out there with his three-and-a-half-inch knife patrolling the streets. Mister Toledo was out there once.”
Hainsworth, a resident of the 4000 block of Aldine St., was one of seven witnesses called by prosecutors Lauren McHale and Tracie Gaydos during the hearing, which lasted about four hours.
Hainsworth described Toledo as a relatively new resident of Aldine Street when the late-night tire-slashing incidents began last October. Mainly, cars parked on the 4000 and 4200 blocks of Aldine and Teesdale streets were affected by the periodic episodes of vandalism.
By January, Hainsworth said, the local news media had begun reporting the incidents, attracting public attention and that of Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, who visited the block to inspect the damage after one incident.
Hainsworth began “patrolling” the neighborhood on foot nightly in January, although he was not part of an organized Town Watch or Block Watch group. He was out of work at the time.
Toledo joined him on “the first two nights,” Hainsworth said, but then stopped. Hainsworth’s nightly patrols continued, as did the vandalism.
Police Officers Melissa Panebianco and Dave Richardson of the 15th district testified that they were assigned to patrol the area covertly in “plain” clothes and an unmarked vehicle. They developed a rapport with Hainsworth, who would contact Richardson by phone with reports of suspicious activity in the area.
Hainsworth typically walked the neighborhood from 11 p.m. until the following morning. He usually carried a folding knife attached to his belt. Panebianco said she was aware that Hainsworth carried the knife.
Panebianco and Richardson each testified that they met Toledo for the first time late on April 15 when he again joined Hainsworth on patrol. Toledo had a “brief conversation” with the officers at about 11:30 p.m. on a nearby block of Frankford Avenue, Panebianco said.
During the ensuing hours, Hainsworth and Toledo patrolled the neighborhood, sometimes together and other times separately, Hainsworth said. By about 4 a.m., Hainsworth had seen nothing suspicious and decided to walk one final patrol before retiring for the night. Toledo agreed, Hainsworth said.
The neighbors split up. Minutes later, Hainsworth discovered a car with a punctured tire at Aldine and Erdrick streets. He sent a text message to Richardson at 4:23 a.m. Hainsworth met up with Toledo and found a second damaged car on the 4200 block of Aldine.
The two undercover officers and a uniformed patrol officer arrived on the block to inspect the vehicles. Then their supervisor, Lt. John Moroney, arrived. Toledo walked away from the group, Hainsworth said.
A short time later, police found several more damaged cars on Teesdale Street.
Panebianco testified that she had seen Toledo walking alone on Erdrick Street from Teesdale Street toward Aldine. He then turned onto Aldine and entered his home. As Panebianco retraced Toledo’s steps along Aldine, she found a car with a punctured tire that was still deflating and making a hissing sound. Toledo had walked past the car “two to three” minutes earlier, Panebianco said.
In all, police found 13 vehicles with punctured tires that night, Richardson said.
Regarding a separate incident, Police Officer Michael Hosgood testified that he saw Toledo acting suspiciously around his own vehicle, a Chevy Cobalt, at about 5:30 a.m. on March 20. Then minutes later, a tire on the Cobalt went flat.
Toledo reported the damage to Hosgood, who was sitting in a marked police car on the block.
Police arrested Toledo at his home on April 25 and seized several knives and construction-style blades from the house. Toledo is free on $40,000 bail and is scheduled for an Aug. 2 arraignment in Common Pleas Court. ••EndFragment