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Trial ahead for man accused of killing York football player

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

The man accused of killing semi-pro football player Julio Ferrer in his York City home confessed to a friend, telling him he felt the fatal shooting was justified, according to preliminary hearing testimony.

At the close of the hearing on Tuesday, Feb. 13, District Judge James Morgan determined enough evidence exists for Dante Levon Brown to stand trial for homicide.

Brown, 19, of the first block of North West Street, remains in York County Prison without bail. His formal arraignment in York County Court is set for March 23, court records state.

Julio Ferrer

Ferrer, 31, was found dead in his 27 N. West St. apartment shortly before 4 a.m. Dec. 16, according to York City Police, who said he suffered a gunshot wound to the chest.

Brian Gottschall, 23, testified Tuesday against Brown, whom he described as a close friend he's known for about 15 years.

Gottschall said Brown was at his home the night of Dec. 16 and said "he needed to talk to me — he had to tell me something."

He testified that he, Brown and a third man walked out onto Gottschall's balcony for privacy, after which Brown confessed.

"He told me he was the one who shot Julio," Gottschall said on the witness stand. "He told me that ... he shot him in his chest."

Brown also said the shooting happened near the door to Ferrer's efficiency apartment, Gottschall said.

Dante Levon Brown

Bullet hole in door: York City Police Officer Christopher Roosen testified he was the first officer on scene, and that he spotted a bullet hole through Ferrer's door and found a spent shell casing in the hallway outside Ferrer's apartment.

Gottschall testified he also knew Ferrer, who was his neighbor. He said he went to Ferrer's family and told them that Brown had confessed to him.

Police previously told The York Dispatch that detectives believe Ferrer and Brown together robbed Ferrer's cousin of $2,500 cash. The cousin did not report the robbery at the time, police said.

According to police, Brown was upset because he and Ferrer couldn't agree on how to split up the robbery proceeds.

Roosen testified Ferrer was lying on the ground, face down, in the living area of his home, which is about 7 feet from his apartment door.

The prosecution's theory is that Brown fired at Ferrer through the apartment door.

Detective called: Senior deputy prosecutor Seth Bortner called three witnesses to the stand on Tuesday. One was the lead investigator in the homicide, York City Police Detective Paul DeHart.

DeHart testified that Ferrer's girlfriend woke up about 3:30 a.m. or so, found Ferrer bleeding on the floor and noticed the apartment door was ajar.

The detective also said the girlfriend told him about $2,000 of Ferrer's cash was missing.

DeHart said Gottschall was brought to the station Dec. 18 by Ferrer's father, and it was at that point that Gottschall told detectives Brown had confessed to him.

During Tuesday's hearing, defense attorney Tom Kelley repeatedly objected to DeHart recounting what a witness told him a third person had said. He called it "double hearsay."

"We're looking forward to seeing this case brought to court," Kelley told The York Dispatch afterward.

Ferrer's family packed Morgan's courtroom for the hearing. As they left, one young woman called out to Brown, "You can rot in hell, b—."

More:Police: York football player shot over robbery split

Semi-pro player: Ferrer was a semi-professional football player for the York Silver Bullets, the York Generals, the Central Penn Chargers and the Central Penn Piranha, according to online reports.

He played defensive tackle for the Silver Bullets and was on that team for six years, co-owner Chris Umbarger has said.

Jessica Wells, a friend of Ferrer's, has told The York Dispatch that Ferrer was a kind person and a good friend who could be trusted.

"He was always willing to help out his fellow teammates or friends," she said. "He bent over backward for the people he cared about."

Football was Ferrer's passion in life, according to Wells. He'd show up for every practice — often early and always ready to work.

"He was that guy on your team you could depend on, and he was an excellent football player," Wells said.

Julio Ferrer, 31, was killed in the early morning hours of Saturday, Dec. 16. He was a member of the semi-professional York football team the York Silver Bullets.

Stabbed classmate: In October 2014, when he was 16 years old, Brown was arrested by York City Police for allegedly stabbing a 15-year-old classmate at Goodridge Academy, 329 Lindberg Ave.

The privately run academy is for York City students with severe disciplinary issues, school officials have said.

The classmate escaped life-threatening injury, and Brown was charged as an adult with aggravated assault and related offenses.

The classmate suffered stab wounds to the back and arm, which Brown was accused of inflicting as the two sat next to each other in class, police said at the time.

Brown's 2014 criminal charges were moved to juvenile court in February 2015 for resolution, prosecutors said at the time.

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