A man accused of killing a Frankford resident inside a notorious local bar in early 2011 was supposed to go on trial July 9.
Now, Tyrese Ford’s trial is scheduled to open on Nov. 16. Another man already has been convicted in a later shooting outside the same bar.
Ford, 21, of North Philadelphia, was charged in the Feb. 19, 2011, murder of 20-year-old Christopher Spence of the 4700 block of Griscom St. inside the T&T bar at Hawthorne and Margaret streets. Ford was just 19 when he was arrested Feb. 20, 2011.
A new opinion about the victim’s autopsy prompted the later trial date, said Assistant District Attorney Gail Fairman.
That autopsy had been performed by Dr. Allison Hunt, who now works in California, Fairman said in a phone interview. The medical examiner, Dr. Sam Gulino, has an idea about the gunshot wound that killed Spence, but his idea differs from that of Hunt, the prosecutor said, so defense counsel Kenneth Young has been given time to review Gulino’s findings, she said.
Aligning the calendars for the court, prosecutor and defense attorney led to pushing the trial back almost sixth months.
Spence, who had played football for the Frankford Chargers and Frankford High School, had been shot in the chest after 1 a.m. on Feb. 19, 2011, and was taken by car to Aria Health’s Frankford campus. He was transferred to the hospital’s Torresdale campus, where he died at 3:11 a.m. Fairman said the shooting was the result of a fight over a girl.
Both the victim and alleged murderer were under the legal drinking age, and that sparked demonstrations outside the bar, which already had a plainly bad reputation in the surrounding neighborhood. The tavern’s history of fights and underage drinking had been discussed at a community meeting with police two days before Spence was killed.
During a demonstration at Hawthorne and Margaret after Spence’s death, neighbors vowed the bar would never reopen. When the business did start up again — as Deuces Lounge — protests took place daily across the street.
Spence’s mother, Javese Phelps-Washington, said she regarded the re-opening as a slap in the face.
A month after Spence’s death, two men fired into a crowd of protesters, inflicting minor wounds on two people. Within 10 days, Shamus Armsted of West Philadelphia, the bar’s operator, was arrested and charged in the shooting.
In mid-June, Armsted was found guilty of two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of recklessly endangering another person. He is in custody at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility on State Road. He faces up to 42 years in prison and $55,000 in fines when he is sentenced on Aug. 1 in Courtroom 1008 at the Criminal Justice Center, 13th and Filbert streets.
Pete Specos, president and zoning officer of the Frankford Civic Association, said the property can never again be a bar.
There is a plan to use the building as a grocery store, but that proposal hasn’t moved forward yet, Specos said. ••EndFragment