York City robber found not guilty of attempted murder

A York City robber who shot a man in the head during a robbery last year was found not guilty of attempted first-degree murder.

Steven Frederick Stokes Jr., 27, of no fixed address, was charged in August 2016 with attempted first-degree murder, aggravated assault, robbery, being a felon in illegal possession of a firearm, theft and false identification to law enforcement.

Steven Stokes Jr.

Stokes was found guilty of all charges except attempted first-degree murder on Thursday, Sept. 14.

York City Police said Stokes robbed three woman and a man, then ordered the man, Saquan Darby, to the ground and shot him in the head on Aug. 10, 2016. 

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Stokes' attorney, Seamus Dubbs, said he and his client were disappointed in the verdict.

He said there were some inconsistencies in the identification of Stokes and also said that Darby did not testify during the trial, but rather the transcript of his testimony from Stokes' preliminary hearing was admitted instead.

“We argued that there was not a full and fair opportunity for cross-examination," he said.

He said they are planning on appealing.

The prosecutor for Stokes' case could not be reached Thursday evening.

Background:  The robbery and shooting happened about 12:55 a.m. in a parking lot in the alley behind the 100 block of South Belvidere Avenue, where Darby and three women were hanging out, according to York City Police.

Stokes — who apparently was a stranger to all four people — walked up to them, pulled out a handgun, told the group to "chill," then ordered them to "give him all they had," documents state.

Stokes took Darby's cellphone, wallet and watch, then patted down the three women but found nothing to steal from them, according to police.

That's when he ordered Darby on the ground and shot him, documents state.

As Stokes walked away from the area, one of the women helped Darby into her car and took him to York Hospital. Police said he escaped with a minor wound.

Officers were given a description of Stokes and found him in an alley north of the 500 block of West College Avenue, several blocks from the shooting.

He was ordered to the ground, but he took off, police said. He was captured in the 400 block of West College Avenue after a brief chase on foot, charging documents state.

During Stokes' arrest, a .380-caliber handgun was seized, which Stokes, as a convicted felon, is prohibited from possessing. Police also found a .380-caliber shell casing at the scene.

When he was taken to the county's central booking unit, where he told deputies his name was "Allen Philistine," according to charging documents.

Sentencing for Stokes is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Nov. 6 in front of Common Pleas Judge Gregory M. Snyder.

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at cdornblaser@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.