Jury acquits York City man of murdering Anthony Orr Jr.
A York County jury has acquitted Gen-uine "G" Alston of first- and third-degree murder in the fatal shooting of well-known community advocate Anthony Orr Jr. near Penn Park in June 2018.
Jurors deliberated for about two hours before reaching their verdict about 5:45 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14.
Alston, 22, with addresses in York City and West York, breathed a sigh of relief as he was led from the courtroom by deputies. He was being taken back to York County Prison, where he's been held without bail since being arrested, but will be released, according to defense attorney Roy Galloway.
"My heart goes out to the Orr family," Galloway said. "(But) it would've been further victimization for Mr. Alston to spend the rest of his life in prison for a crime he didn't commit. We're glad justice prevailed."
Alston's trial began Wednesday morning with opening statements. By Thursday afternoon, the prosecution and defense had rested their cases and attorneys had given closing arguments.
Alston took the stand in his own defense and denied having anything to do with Orr's homicide, which happened in the 100 block of Lafayette Street about 4:30 p.m. June 24, 2018.
Orr, 36, suffered a shotgun wound to the head and was rushed to York Hospital, where he died two days later.
The prosecution didn't present a motive for the homicide. Chief deputy prosecutor John Hamme has told jurors that sometimes "senseless acts happen and you can't say why."
But trial testimony and evidence, including Alston's videotaped police interview, suggested Alston's ex-girlfriend, Miracle Love Johnson, got into an altercation at Penn Park earlier in the day, where the annual Trey & Boo Classic basketball tournament was being held, and that Orr's slaying could be related to that.
Johnson testified for the defense Thursday, saying she wasn't involved in the Penn Park altercation, didn't know Orr and didn't speak with Alston that day.
Local attorney Sandra Thompson has told The York Dispatch that Orr, known to loved ones as "Bouk," was shot because he was reaching out to people "who were involved in wrong" and trying to convince them to change their ways.
"They retaliated against him," she said. "He (was) involved in positivity and breaking up negativity, even to his own detriment."
Thompson has described Orr as a family man, stand-up person and community mentor to both young men in general and to men recently released from prison.
Defense argument: Galloway in his closing argument went after the two witnesses who identified Alston as the man they saw running from the shooting scene holding a sawed-off shotgun.
Both witnesses had ties to Orr. Lamont Padgett was the victim's friend, and Vanessa Bones is Orr's cousin. Both were in the area that day but not with Orr or with each other. Both testified at trial they saw the shooter fleeing and that they saw his face.
Each said they are 100% sure Alston is the fleeing gunman they saw.
But Galloway argued the identifications should be suspect in jurors' minds — and not only because of the witnesses' ties to the victim.
Bones initially told police she didn't see the shooter's face. She testified Wednesday that she told police she hadn't seen a face because she didn't want to get involved but recently agreed to view a photo lineup from which she immediately picked Alston's photo.
Galloway insisted Padgett's identification can't be trusted because although he immediately chose Alston in the second lineup he was shown, he circled another man's photo in the first lineup he viewed.
Alston's photo wasn't in the first lineup, and Padgett testified he was instructed to circle a photo if there was a resemblance to the shooter, then to indicate how much of a resemblance there was.
Padgett said he circled a photo in the first lineup and wrote "65%" to indicate how close in facial features that man was to the shooter.
Galloway also argued that his client had no reason to kill Orr, didn't know Orr and didn't live near Orr. He also argued there was no physical evidence to suggest Alston was involved.
"We're here for justice — not to make just anybody pay," he said.
'He did it': Hamme, during his closing argument, asked jurors if they knew who shot and killed President Abraham Lincoln, then asked how they could know that, since there were no fingerprints, DNA or other physical evidence.
"Because people saw him do it," Hamme said. "And it's the same concept we're dealing with here — people saw (Alston) doing it."
He asked jurors to consider what the odds must be for two people who didn't know Alston to separately and immediately identify him in photo lineups.
"The reason they did that is not because of some family conspiracy," Hamme argued. "There's no conspiracy against Mr. Alston. He did it."
Alston's only mistake that day was being seen by the two witnesses, the prosecutor said.
— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.