Police: Alleged killer's T-shirt found gripped in homicide victim's hand
York City teen Dezmen "Dez" Jones, 15, remembered by family and friends during a vigil held Friday, Sept. 28, 2018. Jones was fatally shot on Wednesday, Sept. 26. York Dispatch
As his lifeblood leaked onto paving stones in the rear yard of a York City row home, homicide victim Jameel Murray held tight to the T-shirt of a teen who was later charged in the double-fatal shooting.
Murray, 28, and 15-year-old Dezmen "Dez" Jones, both of the city, were killed about 8 p.m. Sept. 26 in the fenced-in rear yard of 613 W. Princess St., York City Detective Paul DeHart testified Tuesday, Dec. 4, at the preliminary hearing of accused killer Luis Joshua Vicente-Ramirez.
The suspect turned 16 years old just days after the double homicide.
Murray was shot eight times, including in the stomach and chest, and Dezmen was shot several times, DeHart testified. Dezmen was rushed to York Hospital and pronounced dead, the detective testified; Murray was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police collected 20 shell casings — all 9 mm — at the scene, including casings under and around Murray's body, according to DeHart.
Investigators found a black Sean John T-shirt with a white design on the front clenched in the fist of the deceased Murray, DeHart testified.
A review of security video footage from nearby Eby's Market showed Vicente-Ramirez was hanging out in the area with Murray, Dezmen and two other underage teens, according to DeHart.
Security video: He said he reviewed the store's video and discovered the shirt Vicente-Ramirez was wearing minutes before the double homicide is "the same as the T-shirt found in the grip of Jameel Murray."
The detective testified he interviewed the 14- and 15-year-olds, whose names The York Dispatch is withholding, and learned that Dezmen and the two teens were riding BMX bikes before deciding to hang out at Eby's Market after one of their bicycles broke down.
According to one of the teens, Dezmen spoke with the defendant inside the store, after which the defendant began talking to Murray about selling Murray crack-cocaine, DeHart testified.
All five walked into the fenced-in yard, but things went bad from there, the detective testified.
"An argument ensued," DeHart said, adding that one of the two unnamed teens "heard one individual say, 'Give me my money.'"
The teen said he believed it was Vicente-Ramirez who made the statement, according to DeHart.
Went through pockets? The detective said he was told Vicente-Ramirez and Murray got into a physical fight and that Vicente-Ramirez started going through Murray's pockets, which is when one of the teens yelled to Dezmen that they should run because gunfire was about to erupt.
After the first shot was fired, the two unnamed teens ran off, according to DeHart. He said one of them reported hearing a number of shots, followed by a pause, then "a bunch more" gunshots.
Defense attorney Bill Graff argued that just because the shirt is identical doesn't mean it's the same shirt. He argued there was no fingerprint evidence introduced, that no witness saw his client holding a gun, and that the gun was never found.
"He was present — that's all they have," Graff said.
But chief deputy prosecutor Seth Bortner told presiding District Judge Joel Toluba that DeHart's testimony indicated five people went into the fenced-in yard — two are dead and two ran off.
Circumstantial evidence: Logic dictates the remaining person was the shooter, he said.
"(The defense is) completely ignoring circumstantial evidence," Bortner argued.
Judge Toluba agreed there was enough evidence presented for him to forward the case to York County Court for trial. He scheduled formal court arraignment for Jan. 11.
After the hearing, the defense attorney told The York Dispatch that he has an alternate theory of who killed Dezmen and Murray.
"There are other people involved," Graff said.
He noted he will file a habeas-corpus petition to challenge whether his client should be charged.
Vicente-Ramirez, of no fixed address, remains in York County Prison without bail, charged with two counts of homicide and one count each of carrying a firearm without a license and being a juvenile in illegal possession of a firearm.
Tried to flee arrest: DeHart testified that he spoke with Vicente-Ramirez by phone in the days after the double slaying.
"He told me he would turn himself in the next day," DeHart told the judge. "He failed to do so."
The detective said as police officers closed in on Vicente-Ramirez on Oct. 16, the teen "either jumped out of a window or off a roof" and tried to flee but was captured and arrested.
Charging documents indicate Vicente-Ramirez has connections to Florida, Massachusetts and Alaska.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.