If you’re going to shoot a guy, don’t leave your phone anywhere near his body.
This Hoodlum 101 lesson is brought to you courtesy of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office, which successfully prosecuted Thomas and Charles Shields on aggravated assault, conspiracy and attempted kidnapping charges and last week saw them both sentenced to long prison terms.
Thomas Shields, according to Assistant District Attorney Alisa Shver, dropped his phone outside the Joshua House apartments on Welsh Road in November 2012 as he and his brother Charles shot at a man. Shver, of the DA’s Northeast Bureau, said the Shields brothers believed the man they shot had shorted them $700 in a drug deal.
The assistant district attorney said the brothers hid in bushes outside the victim’s building on Nov. 17, 2012, and, when he came out, sent an accomplice to ask him for a light. When the victim told the man he didn’t smoke, the accomplice, Lamar Roane, grabbed the man as the Shields brothers came out of the bushes and pointed guns at the victim. The Shields grabbed the man and put him in a car. However, the victim escaped when the brothers were themselves getting in the car. He ran through a parking lot. He turned and saw the brothers pointing guns at him and heard two shots. Wounded, he got into a car occupied by an unknown woman, but fell out of it.
The victim did not regain consciousness for days and was hospitalized for a month.
“He collapsed and almost died,” Shver said in a July 24 phone interview. Police officers arrived within minutes. They didn’t wait for an ambulance, she said, they put the victim in a patrol car and drove him to an emergency room.
When Thomas Shields, 36, was shoving the victim into a car, he dropped his phone, the ADA said. It had his picture in it, his name in it, his brother’s photo in it and all sorts of information detectives found very useful in finding the brothers and Roane, Shver said.
Using information from that phone and the accounts of eyewitnesses, detectives Robert Hagy and George Sullivan traced the brothers, and their movements. Detectives were able to get a statement from the victim after he regained consciousness, and the brothers were soon in custody, Shver said.
In mid-May, the brothers were found guilty of attempted kidnapping, assault and conspiracy. They were found not guilty of attempted murder. Last Friday, each was sentenced to 21-41 years imprisonment.
Despite the fact she had asked Common Pleas Court Judge Edward C. Wright to sentence both brothers to 30-60 years, Shver said she was very satisfied with the time they got.
“These defendants are hardened criminals, and the judge recognized that what they did was especially vicious,” Shver stated in an email to the Times.
Shver told Wright that the brothers have long criminal histories and had been arrested together on several occasions. Both men have been involved in drug sales for more than a decade, she said.
Charles Shields, 33, has been arrested 15 times since he was 19 and convicted seven times, Shver told the court. Thomas Shields has been arrested 14 times since he was 17 and convicted or adjudicated eight times. The kidnapping attempt and shooting in November 2012 occurred while both brothers were on probation for earlier crimes.
Shver said the Shields’ case was referred to the indicting grand jury “because the defendants, through an acquaintance, communicated to the victim that they would pay to keep from coming to court. When he continued to cooperate with police, the brothers communicated to him that they would put out a contract on his life.”
The ADA said this wasn’t the first time they’ve been involved in a witness intimidation case.
Roane, 30, pleaded guilty to assault and weapons charges in October 2013, and is serving a three-to-eight-year sentence, according to court records. Shver said he and the Shields brothers lived on the same block in Germantown. ••