Skip to comments.Convicted killerís defense puts Chester City on trial (Republicans made them do it)
Posted on 04/20/2006 8:49:44 PM PDT by denydenydeny
PHILADELPHIA -- The city of Chester was put on trial Wednesday as convicted killer Andre Coopers defense team tried to persuade a federal jury to spare his life. Cooper, 26, faces possible execution for his involvement in three murders committed to maintain the status of Chesters Boyle Street Boys lucrative drug operation.
Coopers defense team played two films for the jury, produced in 1985 and 2004, documenting the contemporary history of Chester from its heyday as a prosperous port city through the infamous reign of Republican mayor and convicted racketeer Jack Nacrelli.
Those who appeared in sound bites in the films included the late activist Tommie Lee Jones; former Republican city councilman William "Rocky" Brown; state Sen. Dominic Pileggi, R-9 , a former mayor and school board member; and Barbara Bohannan-Sheppard, one of two Democrats to hold the post of mayor in the last 100 years.
A number of unnamed residents also spoke on camera about the citys once glorious past and its more recent reputation for crime and corruption.
Dr. Stephen Kauffman, a researcher and assistant professor of sociology at Widener University, testified that Chester and other rust-belt cities began to decline after World War II. Factories closed their doors and relocated to Europe, Japan and other U.S. cities where labor was cheap. Between 1960 and 1989, Chester lost 32 percent of its jobs, Kauffman said.
The political link between the local and GOP-controlled county government was also a contributing factor to the citys decline, according to Kauffman. "Many resources earmarked toward Chester went into peoples pockets," Kauffman said.
Add to that the development of suburbia and "white flight," and those who were left in the city, for the most part, were the elderly and poor, according to the professors testimony.
"Those who could leave, did," Kauffman said.
What resulted, he said, was a "culture of poverty," a cycle that began to affect each subsequent generation.
Residents of poverty-stricken areas like Chester, Kauffman said, "learn to act in ways to facilitate their survival." Some of these coping mechanisms, he added, arent legitimate to the rest of society, "but you do what you have to do to survive."
"Two to three generations of the lack of role models, the lack of legitimate employment has a strong effect on how a person sees the world," Kauffman said. It creates "a loss of possibility."
Cooper, defense attorney Anthony Ricco noted, was reared in such a community, "exposed to neglect in a community riddled by violence."
Dealing drugs, as Cooper has done, is one of the few ways a young person in Chester has to make money, Kauffman said. Violence between drug dealers is often the result.
"Because of the conditions in Chester, these people are deprived of the ability to differentiate between right and wrong?" federal prosecutor Faithe Moore Taylor asked.
Kauffman responded by saying the question was complicated, but that people who are raised around drug dealers may choose dealing drugs as an occupation.
"You do not mean to tell this jury that the concept of choice does not exist?" Moore Taylor asked.
"Absolutely not," Kauffman replied.
Private investigator and former New York City police officer Nicholas Panarella presented statistics from the Uniform Crime Report, compiled by the Pennsylvania State Police, from 1990 to 1999. He noted that serious crimes were committed at a much higher rate in Chester, Delaware Countys only city, than in the surrounding suburbs.
"Ive been in some tough neighborhoods in New York. This was about the worse Ive seen," Panarella said during questioning by defense attorney Patrick Egan. However, he admitted on cross-examination by prosecutor Nancy Beam Winter that not all of Chester fits that description. "Definitely not," he said.
Tanuir Rahman, a third-year political science major at Hunter College in New York, was next on the witness stand. Rahman, working as an intern and paralegal for the defense, compiled a number of statistics on Chester from published sources. Using charts and bar graphs, Rahman presented a bleak picture of the city.
"Chesters crime rates have been much higher than the state and national levels," he said. So too are the citys rate of poverty, unemployment, and high school dropouts as compared to the surrounding counties.
"Did you look at other cities in the area that have impoverished populations, such as Camden and Reading?" Moore Taylor asked.
"I looked, but I did not chart it," Rahman said.
He also noted on cross-examination that he did not verify much of the information he gleaned from his sources. Rahman will be back on the witness stand today.
Boyle Streets Jamain and Vincent Williams were convicted last week along with Cooper after a lengthy trial. Jamain Williams, 26, is also facing the death penalty. His brother Vincent, 27, was spared a death sentence because of his mental retardation. He will serve life in prison without the chance of parole.
The Times's publishing expenses should really be declared an in-kind contribution to the Democratic party.
Like I said...democracy is great because you get what you vote for. They are not too upset about drugs down there, but isn't Chester the town where they deported that guy for supposedly being a Nazi death camp guard?
New angle for Defense:
"It was an accident your honor. "An accident of birth."
All in not well in River City. Or in Chester. And 1,000 more Chesters.
I've read some of their stuff.....I'm not sure there are enough expenses involved in the creation of it to justify counting it...
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