Plea deal in Old City beating case

A co-de­fend­ant of Fox Chase res­id­ent Steven Fer­guson pleaded guilty on Fri­day to in­vol­un­tary man­slaughter for the beat­ing death of 2010 Temple gradu­ate Kev­in Kless on an Old City street corner last Janu­ary.

Mean­while, the 21-year-old Fer­guson re­mains free on bail while await­ing tri­al for third-de­gree murder in the case. A tri­al date has not been set.

In ex­change for Fe­lix Car­rillo’s plea, the Phil­adelphia Dis­trict At­tor­ney’s Of­fice with­drew a murder charge, mul­tiple counts of as­sault and oth­er charges that the 24-year-old from Ol­ney would have faced had he gone to tri­al. Com­mon Pleas Court Judge Ben­jamin Lern­er sen­tenced Car­rillo to serve 2 to 5 years in state pris­on.

Fer­guson, Car­rillo and a third man, Ken­neth En­riquiz-San­ti­ago, 20, of Ju­ni­ata Park, al­legedly at­tacked the 23-year-old Kless, Kless’ girl­friend and a mu­tu­al friend at Fourth and Chest­nut streets last Jan. 14 fol­low­ing a brief ex­change of heated words.

Both groups had been drink­ing at area bars that night. Ac­cord­ing to eye­wit­ness testi­mony, Kless tried to hail a cab, but the cab­bie re­fused to pick up Kless and his two com­pan­ions. That promp­ted Kless to shout at the cab driver.

The de­fend­ants were in a car im­me­di­ately be­hind the cab and, ac­cord­ing to court testi­mony, may have thought Kless was yelling at them. The trio emerged from their car and beat Kless with their fists. Fer­guson al­legedly de­livered the fatal blow when he punched the vic­tim in the head and knocked him to the side­walk.

Lit­ig­ants ar­gued dur­ing a pre­lim­in­ary hear­ing wheth­er the fi­nal punch killed Kless or if the fatal blow oc­curred when Kless’ head struck the pave­ment.

Dur­ing the pre­lim­in­ary hear­ing, a hom­icide de­tect­ive test­i­fied that Fer­guson ad­mit­ted to his role in the at­tack, but claimed that a verbal con­front­a­tion pre­ceded the vi­ol­ence, with Kless re­act­ing to lewd com­ments made by Fer­guson’s group to­ward Kless’ wo­men com­pan­ions. 

Fer­guson was ar­res­ted Jan. 20 and re­mained in jail un­til Ju­ly, when Lern­er re­duced his bail to $150,000 and the de­fend­ant pos­ted 10 per­cent of it to gain his re­lease.

At the time of the beat­ing, Fer­guson was liv­ing with fam­ily on the 1100 block of Solly Ave. ••

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