New Suspects Face Charges in Massacre
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PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Months after four men were cleared in a crackhouse massacre that killed seven people, authorities have brought charges against four new suspects.
Police initially believed the Lex Street Massacre in 2000 resulted from a turf battle among drug dealers. But prosecutors now say the slayings were touched off by a dispute over a car with a broken clutch.
The massacre was carried out by a group of masked men who stormed a rowhouse taken over by squatters. Ten people were herded into a room and ordered to lie face-down on the floor, where they were shot. Seven people, ranging in age from 15 to 54, were killed, and three others were wounded.
Four men were arrested soon after and jailed for 18 months while they awaited trial on murder charges. But over the summer, with a jury already selected, new evidence surfaced indicating the wrong men were in custody, and prosecutors _ who had sought the death penalty _ dropped the charges.
``We regret very much the fact that four other people were charged in this case,″ District Attorney Lynne Abraham said Tuesday.
She announced murder charges against Shihe Black, 20; Bruce Veney, 26; Dawud Faruqi, 27; and his brother Khalid Faruqi, 26. Abraham said she was considering whether to seek the death penalty. All four men were in custody in unrelated cases.
An attorney who represented the Faruqi brothers earlier did not return messages for comment Tuesday. Lawyers for Black and Veney could not immediately be determined.
Prosecutors said a dispute over a blown clutch led to the killings.
Black traded his Chevrolet Corsica for a Dodge Intrepid belonging to 18-year-old George Gibson, authorities said. When the Corsica’s clutch went bad, Gibson demanded the Intrepid back, sparking the dispute. Gibson was among those killed.
Defense attorneys for the four original suspects accused police of ignoring an earlier confession by Black. Authorities said Black confessed twice but recanted both times. One of the surviving shooting victims also had implicated one of the initial suspects.
The original charges were based partly on a confession from one of the initial suspects, who allegedly said the massacre was an attempt to wipe out rival drug dealers. The man later said his statement was coerced.
``There were harsh statements made by the prosecutors when these guys were facing death,″ Tariq El-Shabazz, an attorney for one of the original defendants, said Tuesday. ``Nobody ever apologized to these guys and no one even admitted they were wrong.″