Son testifies against Hess in murder-for-hire trial


Gregory Allen Hess' son testified against his father on Thursday, talking about how the elder Hess had the son surreptitiously take pictures of a man testifying against the father.

Toby Hess also testified his father told him to use a fake name and take $500 cash to someone.

The testimony of the son — who's also his co-defendant in the case — was meant to support the prosecution's argument that Hess in 2014 hired a man to kill a man he'd hired to kill another man.

Chief deputy prosecutors David Sunday and Tim Barker focused Thursday morning on what authorities said Toby Hess had done to aid in his father's alleged crimes.

They first focused on photos Toby Hess, 20, admitted he'd taken of Calvin Jones Jr. at the preliminary hearing of a separate-but-related Hess case.

The charges: Gregory Hess was originally charged with hiring Jones to kill Hess' wife's lover.

Instead, Jones — a York County Drug Task Force informant — told his police handlers about Hess and agreed to work with officers to prove it, according to testimony from that trial in May, in which Hess was acquitted of that solicitation to commit murder charge.

In this current trial, the prosecution produced photographs Toby Hess said he'd taken at his father's behest at the May 9, 2014, preliminary hearing. They depicted a man police identified as Jones inside the Roosevelt Avenue district judge office.

The prosecution played recordings of phone calls Gregory Hess had made from York County Prison to his son, first asking the younger Hess to take the photos.

Authorities allege Hess had his son take the photos with the intention of giving them to fellow inmate Michael Crampton, who Gregory Hess allegedly had hired to kill Jones.

"If that confidential informant shows up — that black guy — I want you to try to get as many pictures of that guy as you can on your phone," said the voice Toby Hess identified as his father.

In the recording, Toby agreed to do so, even though he had seen signs telling him no photos were allowed, he said during the trial.

Barker asked him why he did it, then.

"I don't know," Toby Hess said, before pausing. Barker, who was examining him, let the silence extend before Toby eventually broke it: "'Cause my father told me to."

Toby Hess also said he bought and set up a prepaid phone for his father to use to speak to Crampton.

Dropping off money: In another recording, Gregory Hess told his son he needed him to call a woman named Tynea and bring her some cash.

"Just say, 'My name is Johnny, I'm calling on behalf of VA,'" Hess told his son in the recording. "I owe her boyfriend 500 bucks for some drywall labor he did for me."

In the recording, Gregory Hess told his son to get the money in cash and to put it in an envelope. Toby Hess said during trial that he did so.

The prosecution said this money was meant for fellow inmate Deonsae Bryant, who Hess allegedly was trying to hire to kill Crampton, after Crampton told police Hess had hired him to kill Jones. Bryant didn't do so; he also went to police.

Charges: Gregory Hess, 48, of Hoff Road in North Codorus Township, is charged with two counts of solicitation to commit murder — one for Jones, the other for Crampton — as well one count each of conspiracy to commit murder and using an electronic device to further a crime.

Bryant, like Toby Hess, is also criminally charged as a co-defendant, and also is expected to testify against Gregory Hess for consideration in his case.

— Reach Sean Cotter at