Trial ahead for Oscar Cherry's alleged killer

Liz Evans Scolforo

An 18-year-old York City man is facing trial for the April 18 homicide of Oscar Cherry III in Girard Park.

Kwamiere Durham, of 361 Pattison St., on Tuesday waived his right to a preliminary hearing. District Judge Linda Williams set Durham's formal court arraignment for June 16, she said.

Family and friends gather at Girard Park to remember Oscar Cherry III, Wednesday, April 19, 2017. John A. Pavoncello photo

He remains in prison without bail, charged with homicide and aggravated assault.

Chief public defender Bruce Blocher, who is representing Durham, said he can't yet comment on the case.

First assistant district attorney Jen Russell said it's her understanding Durham waived the hearing because the standard of proof at a preliminary hearing is so low, "and the defendant and his attorney realized that."

She declined at this point to comment about the specifics of the case but confirmed plea-agreement negotiations will at least be entertained.

"We'll definitely be making an offer," Russell said. "But we'll be talking to (Cherry's) family first."

Cherry, 25, of East Boundary Avenue, was pronounced dead at York Hospital on April 18 after being assaulted in Girard Park the night before, according to police.

The background: Officers were called to Girard Park — which is bordered by Girard Avenue, East Maple Street and East South Street — about 7:50 p.m. April 17 for a reported shooting, but there was no gunfire, according to York City Police Lt. Troy Bankert.

According to police, Cherry was at the park with children he was baby-sitting. A group of boys and girls starting making fun of Cherry and threw rocks and sticks at him, charging documents allege.

At some point, Cherry became defensive of the children he was baby-sitting, police said.

Oscar Cherry III
(Photo courtesy of Facebook)

He told the youths if they struck the girls he was baby-sitting with a stick, "I'll break it off in your ass," according to charging documents.

The group of youths left, but at least two of them returned with Durham, after telling Durham that Cherry had hit them, documents state.

Victim backed away: Cherry started backing away, but Durham swung at him, punching him in the face, according to documents.

Cherry fell onto the macadam and struck his head, after which Durham and the group of youths fled the area, documents state.

Police said someone used a cellphone to record video of the confrontation just before the assault.

Kwamiere Durham

Cherry was unconscious, bleeding from the head and not breathing when police arrived, according to Bankert, who said the man suffered a previous medical condition involving his brain.

Cherry died of blunt-force head trauma, according to the York County Coroner's Office, which has ruled the death a homicide.

On video: Police were able to track down the video, which showed the youths harassing Cherry, police said. The alleged assault was not part of the video.

Detectives tracked Durham through his Facebook profile of "KD Gusto," documents state, then arrested him at his home.

Police: Kids harassed homicide victim before assault

Charging documents state that detectives knew they had their man when Durham said to them, "I didn't hit him that hard."

Durham, who said he knew Cherry from "around the streets," admitted to not helping Cherry when he fell, police said.

York City Council President Mike Helfrich has described Cherry as "a peaceful young man."

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.

Natasha Mehaffie of York organizes candles in the shape of a heart as family and friends gather at Girard Park to remember her cousin, Oscar Cherry III, Wednesday, April 19, 2017. John A. Pavoncello photo