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Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Philadelphia man already serving life goes on trial in two more killings

22:05 |

Philadelphia man whom police once described as a hit man for drug dealers, and who is already serving two life sentences, went on trial Tuesday, charged with murder in two more killings.
Malik Collins, 24, and Anthony Collins, 28, are charged with shooting two people in a parked pickup truck the night of March 18, 2006. The killings in the North Philadelphia neighborhood of Brewerytown were the result of a turf dispute between drug dealers, Assistant District Attorney Brian Zarallo said.

The Collinses were connected with a local drug gang and killed Johnny Harmon, 39, because he was selling drugs on the gang's turf, Zarallo said. A neighborhood resident, Latoya Bostick, 18, was an innocent victim, Zarallo said.

"Her only crime was that she thought Johnny Harmon was cute," Zarallo told jurors in the Court of Common Pleas.

More than a dozen shots were fired into the cab of the truck about 11 p.m., said Zarallo, and each victim was hit five times. They were pronounced dead within the hour.

Defense attorneys Samuel C. Stretton, for Anthony Collins, and Michael E. Wallace, for Malik Collins, cautioned jurors that the defendants had to be presumed innocent. The two chief witnesses against the Collinses have criminal records, and one cut a deal with federal prosecutors in return for helping in the city case, Zarallo acknowledged.

Malik Collins was convicted of the two earlier murders in 2008, according to court records.

He was arrested in 2006 after 15th District police officers Kirk Dodd and Williams Smith had a robbery victim call a cellphone stolen by two men.

A man answered, and the victim said he would pay $100 for return of the phone.

When two men appeared to collect the cash, police were waiting.

One of those arrested was Malik Collins, who was carrying a 9mm pistol.

Malik Collins grew up around the 3000 block of Thompson Street in Brewerytown and was convicted of murder in two 2005 killings.

The trial is expected to last about a week. The Collinses face life sentences if they are found guilty of murder in the 2006 killings


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