Bethune-Banks not guilty in revenge murder, jury says

Tobias Bethune-Banks

It took a York County jury about three hours Friday to acquit a man accused of killing the man who testified against his father in a 1997 York City homicide. 

Tobias Bethune-Banks' supporters had to be removed from the courtroom after they cheered when they heard he was found not guilty of first-degree murder.

Bethune-Banks, 23, faced first- and third-degree murder charges in the 2013 slaying of Danny Steele in York City. The jury acquitted him of both charges. 

Steele, 36, testified against Bethune-Banks's father, Melvin "Fatback" Bethune, in a murder trial in 1997.

Authorities had said Bethune-Banks fatally shot Steele when Steele would not recant his testimony. Police alleged Bethune-Banks had been trying to do that at the request of his father.

Steele was gunned down in his car on Dec. 7, 2013, at the corner of North George and North streets.

Steele testified against his two childhood friends — Bethune and Tysheem "Ty Boogie" Crocker — at the men's murder trial for the 1997 gang-war slaying of Raymond "Skip" Clarke.

The two, now 42, are serving life sentences.

Steele was sentenced to 2½ to five years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.

"I'm obviously very happy for Tobias," said Jack McMahon, Bethune-Banks' attorney, after the verdict.

McMahon said he thought the evidence was difficult for the jury, since it mostly relied on people already in prison providing information. Those people, he said, had their own motives for speaking to authorities. He called it a tough case for the prosecution.

McMahon said it would have been different had those witnesses' information lined up with the physical evidence.

"There was no 'meat on the bone,' so to speak," McMahon said.

While Bethune-Banks was not found guilty in the slaying, he is not a free man yet. He is  serving three to eight years in state prison from a felony drug charge. 

He pleaded guilty in that case in 2016. McMahon said Bethune-Banks is expected to be paroled soon.

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.