Tearful witness recounts York City boyfriend's execution

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

The girlfriend of York City homicide victim Edwin Pacheco-Ruiz cried throughout much of her testimony but held firm on her identification of his alleged killer, who is now facing trial in York County Court.

Willie C. Peterson III, 27, known as "Homer," will be charged with first- and third-degree murder at his formal court arraignment, according to Kyle King, spokesman for the York County District Attorney's Office.

Willie "Homer" Peterson III

He's currently charged with one count of homicide. At the close of his preliminary hearing Friday, Dec. 1, District Judge Linda Williams determined enough evidence exists for Peterson to stand trial.

The 29-year-old Pacheco-Ruiz, known as "Joey," was shot in the neck, torso and leg by his backseat passenger as he drove through the 700 block of East Princess Street on May 28, according to York City Police.

Riding with him that night was his girlfriend, Lucille Bishop, who testified Friday at Peterson's preliminary hearing. She was in the front passenger seat and witnessed Pacheco-Ruiz get shot three times.

Tearful testimony: Bishop said she and Pacheco-Ruiz had left his parents' home and were on their way to get food at a York City bar when a man flagged them down. The man got into the back seat of the car and sat directly behind Pacheco-Ruiz, she said.

"He said he 'had five' and was 'gonna hit,'" Bishop testified, adding that he then brandished a gun.

The phrase appears to be a shooting reference, as in, "I have five bullets."

"(Pacheco-Ruiz) just kept repeating, 'Homer, don't do this,'" Bishop said.

Under questioning by chief deputy prosecutor Dave Maisch, she testified Peterson shot her boyfriend, after which they crashed into a home in the block.

"I just remember after we crashed, I saw another flash," Bishop said. That could indicate another bullet being fired.

York City Detective Travis Sowers said the victim was shot three times.

Bishop testified she identified Peterson in a photo lineup at the police station.

Shown photo: She said that prior to viewing the lineup, she told the mother of one of Pacheco-Ruiz's children that Pacheco-Ruiz called the shooter "Homer," leading the woman to show Bishop a Facebook photo of Peterson.

Defense attorney Roy Galloway tried to make the most of that testimony and asked Bishop if she identified Peterson based only on a general physical description, or because she'd been shown his photo before the lineup.

But Bishop said she's "positive" her boyfriend called his killer "Homer" and said she's sure Peterson was the shooter.

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Galloway asked more questions, but Maisch objected and Williams agreed.

"She hasn't wavered one iota" in her identification of Peterson as the killer, the judge said.

Sowers also testified at Friday's hearing.

He said Pacheco-Ruiz was rushed from the scene to York Hospital, where he died of multiple gunshot wounds on May 30.

Testimony did not address a possible motive in the homicide, and police haven't spoken publicly about one.

On the lam: Peterson remained a wanted fugitive for nearly three months. He remains in York County Prison without bail.

Members of the U.S. Marshals Service captured him Aug. 15 in a home in the 700 block of East King Street, according to Capt. Troy Bankert, who supervises the city detective bureau.

At the time, it was the home of Tashina Sabree Banks, who was arrested along with Peterson, Bankert confirmed.

Bankert said Banks was wanted on outstanding warrants.

After her arrest, she was charged with hindering Peterson's apprehension, according to court records.

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