A Common Pleas Court jury decided that David Toledo did, indeed, slash or puncture a bunch of tires on his Mayfair neighbors’ cars.
But was Toledo, in fact, the “Mayfair Tire Slasher” who menaced residents of the Cottman and Frankford area for about four months in early 2012? It depends whom you ask.
Following a weeklong trial, a 12-member jury last Wednesday convicted Toledo, 46, of 15 charges related to the damaged car tires. But the jury acquitted Toledo of 44 other charges, leaving most of the vandalism attributed to the defendant officially unsolved.
“Was there a situation in Mayfair where people were really being terrorized? Yeah,” Toledo’s attorney, William Brennan, said after the verdict.
“But when a guy is labeled the ‘Mayfair Tire Slasher’ and he’s found not guilty of 75 percent of the case, maybe he’s a Mayfair tire slasher.”
Brennan described the case as “overcharged” by the District Attorney’s Office, which blamed about 50 incidents of tire slashing all on Toledo.
The incidents occurred between January and April 2012 mostly along Teesdale, Aldine and adjoining streets just west of Frankford Avenue. Several vehicles were vandalized multiple times in that span, including Toledo’s own car. He lived on Aldine Street at the time.
Toledo was convicted of 12 criminal mischief counts as well as two counts of possessing an instrument of crime (a knife) and one for filing a false report to police. He faces a maximum possible sentence of 7-1/2 to 15 years in state prison, but Brennan is seeking probation, noting that 12 of the convictions are summary offenses.
“Toledo held an entire neighborhood hostage with his criminal actions and the jury clearly saw that by convicting him,” the D.A.’s Office said in a printed statement.
“We got a fair jury and were satisfied with the outcome,” Assistant District Attorney Lauren McHale told reporters after the verdict.
Throughout the trial, Brennan highlighted what he framed as an absence of evidence against his client on most of the charges. Nobody actually saw Toledo puncturing any tires.
Brennan argued that criminal investigators failed to pursue dozens of other leads after identifying Toledo as the tire slasher.
“There was a list of 25 people, a suspect list they didn’t follow up on,” the defense attorney said.
Brennan described a scenario in which another area resident had volunteered to perform nightly patrols of the affected blocks and admittedly carried a knife while walking his beat. Authorities did not charge him, and he became a witness for the prosecution.
In another instance, private surveillance cameras recorded another man vandalizing cars in a nearby section of Mayfair. Police recovered the video and made an arrest.
“He pleaded to whatever was on camera and that was it,” Brennan said.
The spate of tire slashings received heavy news media coverage, with Toledo front and center in many reports. Toledo presented himself as a Town Watch-style neighborhood watchman, although he never actually joined the Town Watch. In one television interview, he suggested he might dispatch some street justice on the perpetrator, were he to identify the vandal.
Toledo moved out of Mayfair after his arrest and release from jail. He remains free on bail pending a March 24 sentencing hearing. ••