Murder charges dropped in case of slain New Hope Academy basketball player
One of two men accused in the shooting death of a New Hope Academy basketball player had his murder charges dropped this week, according to court records.
Troyvon Breeland had been accused of murder for the Sept. 8, 2014, shooting death of 18-year-old Na'Gus Griggs.
Breeland, 21, of York City, appeared in York County Court on Tuesday, where he entered an Alford plea to a felony charge of witness intimidation, according to court records. An Alford plea is basically a no-contest plea, meaning a defendant can plead guilty without having to admit guilt.
Also at Tuesday's hearing, charges of first-degree murder, third-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and soliciting a murder were dropped, according to court records.
No sentencing date has been set for Breeland.
His defense attorney, Karen Comery, declined comment, as did chief deputy prosecutor David Maisch, who is handling the case.
Charges of first- and third-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder remain active against Breeland's co- defendant, Daequahn "Dae-Dae" Jones, who police allege was the triggerman.
Jones, 20, of York City, is scheduled to go to trial Nov. 2.
Jones' defense attorney, Heather Reiner, said she was not made aware that Breeland would be in court to enter a plea.
Had she known, she said, "I would have been present to defend my client's interests."
Reiner said she now expects Breeland will testify against Jones at trial.
The homicide: Jones and Breeland were among a large crowd of people near the corner of East Princess and South Pine streets about 7 p.m. when Griggs, Carlos Ramos and Niam Jamison drove through the area and stopped for a red light at the corner, according to preliminary hearing testimony in November.
At that hearing, an eyewitness testified that when Ramos, Griggs and Jamison pulled up to the light, Breeland twice said, "Let that thing ring."
Jones fired at Griggs immediately after Breeland made the statements, according to the witness, who said she saw Griggs' head snap to the side.
She said she and others ran inside a home to avoid being shot themselves, then ventured out several minutes later — after police arrived — to see what happened.
She saw Griggs still in the car, not far from the shooting scene.
"He was, like, trying to catch his breath," she said. "He was breathing hard and had all this blood on the side of his head."
He was rushed to York Hospital, where he died several hours later, according to the York County Coroner's Office.
Victim abandoned: Ramos testified he and Jamison abandoned their dying friend and fled.
District Judge Ron Haskell Jr., who presided over the preliminary hearing, pointed out that the men were less than two miles from York and Memorial hospitals when Griggs was shot.
The judge already knew the answer, but asked the question anyway: You didn't drive your friend to the hospital?
"No," Ramos replied matter-of-factly.
"OK," Haskell said. "It needed to be said."
Griggs' Facebook page indicates he was associated with the 600 Boyz, or the 600s, which is the city's west side gang.
The young man also played basketball for New Hope Academy and had hoped to attend college, according to his former coach, who said Griggs wanted to escape the streets but was conflicted.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org.