Friend testifies against 2 alleged York City killers, cites gang dispute
Alleged killer Elvin Mateo Jr. couldn't stop smirking during Friday's preliminary hearing in the 2013 gang-related shooting death of Jordan Breeland.
Even testimony linking him to the gun that killed Breeland seemed unable to dampen Mateo's spirits.
At the close of the hearing, District Judge Joel Toluba determined enough evidence exists for Mateo and co-defendant Durell Cotton Jr. to stand trial for Breeland's homicide.
In contrast, Cotton — who also had a second preliminary hearing Friday on a double homicide case — kept a straight face during both proceedings, listening quietly to the evidence against him.
Mateo, 21, of 414 W. North St. in York City, and Cotton, 19, of 825 W. Poplar St. in York City, remain in York County Prison without bail, charged with homicide in Breeland's death. They also face charges of attempted homicide and aggravated assault because another man, Davon "YB" Brown, suffered gunshot wounds to his hands during the drive-by shooting, according to testimony.
Cotton also is charged with two additional counts of homicide for the June 12 shooting deaths of brothers Angel Berrios, 21, and Abdiel "Tito" Vazquez-Soto, 19. Toluba also bound that case over for trial following Cotton's preliminary hearing.
The defendants' next court appearance will be their formal court arraignments, set for Oct. 9.
Breeland homicide: Breeland, 21, was fatally shot in the chest during a gang-related drive-by shooting Oct. 15, 2013, York City Police have said.
He was a member of the Parkway "crew," which is a loosely organized neighborhood gang.
The prosecution's star witness in both of the preliminary hearings, Raymond Bruno-Carrasquillo, testified he, Cotton and Mateo were friends "almost all my life" and that they all hung out together on Liberty Court. That's in the south end of the city.
The Parkway and south-side crews have clashed violently for years, according to officials, including a 2009 drive-by shooting in which 9-year-old Ciara "CeCe" Savage of Lancaster was fatally shot by a stray bullet.
Bruno-Carrasquillo said members of the Liberty Court faction and the Parkway crew had been shooting at each other, that Cotton and Mateo had been talking about retaliating against Parkway, and that Breeland's and Brown's names had specifically come up.
'Lurking': He explained to the judge that Cotton and Mateo had gone out "lurking," which is street slang for "going around looking ... for the people you want to retaliate on."
Later, Mateo told Bruno-Carrasquillo that he and Cotton fired on a gold SUV being driven by Brown, according to the witness. Mateo admitted he fired on the SUV with a .357 revolver, according to Bruno-Carrasquillo.
Cotton admitted to being the driver during the shooting, according to Bruno-Carrasquillo.
"He didn't get into as much detail as Mateo," the witness said.
State police Trooper Shawn Panchik testified he and other troopers were in York City a few hours after the shooting when they ended up chasing Mateo and Cotton, unaware of any connection to the Breeland slaying.
A dashboard video camera in the troopers' cruiser recorded Mateo throwing the .357 on the ground, and recorded Cotton reaching his hand into a tangle of ivy as he was running, according to Panchik. The .357 was recovered immediately, and a 10 mm handgun was recovered in the ivy the next day, after the dash-cam video was reviewed, he said.
York City Police Detective Andy Baez, the lead investigator in the Breeland homicide, testified ballistic testing has determined the gun Mateo tossed was the weapon used in the Breeland/Brown drive-by shooting.
Brothers killed: During Cotton's second preliminary hearing, Bruno-Carrasquillo testified he was driving around with Cotton in the passenger seat when they pulled up on a vehicle carrying brothers Berrios and Vazquez-Soto.
Cotton opened the car door and fired repeatedly at the brothers, according to the witness.
"He never left the car," Bruno-Carrasquillo said.
The double homicide happened about 10:15 p.m. June 12 at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Juniper Street.
York City Detective First Class Jeff Spence testified a neighbor's surveillance camera recorded part of the encounter, although not the shooting itself.
Drive-by Caddy: The video helped detectives track down the Cadillac that Bruno-Carrasquillo was driving when Cotton shot Berrios and Vazquez-Soto, according to Spence, and eventually led them to both men.
Defense attorney John Hamme said Cotton maintains his innocence in both cases.
Mateo also maintains his innocence, according to his defense attorney, Rick Robinson.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com.