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Thursday, 25 August 2011

Murder convictions for drug-gang enforcer

11:13 |

Reputed drug-gang enforcer Malik Collins - all of 23 and already serving two life terms for murders - racked up a third Wednesday when a Philadelphia jury found him and his cousin guilty of the 2006 executions of two people in a truck in Brewerytown.
The Common Pleas Court jury of six men and six women had deliberated since Monday before returning guilty verdicts against Collins and Anthony Collins, 27, in the March 18, 2006, killings of rival drug dealer Johnny Harmon, 39, and Harmon's girlfriend, Latoya Bostick, 18.

Although the first-degree murder convictions carry mandatory life terms without chance of parole, Judge M. Teresa Sarmina will formally sentence the cousins Tuesday so victims' relatives may make impact statements.

The District Attorney's Office initially sought death penalties for the cousins. According to Assistant District Attorney Brian Zarallo, the death penalty was withdrawn against Anthony Collins to avoid having to try him separately.

Before the trial's Aug. 16 start, Sarmina granted a defense motion to bar the death penalty against Malik Collins after defense attorney Samuel C. Stretton presented expert testimony proving that Collins is mentally retarded. In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states may not execute people who are mentally retarded.

Zarallo said trial testimony showed the Collinses worked as enforcers for a violent Brewerytown drug gang known as "Thompson University," after a neighborhood street.

Harmon and some associates began selling drugs nearby in the 1200 block of Dover Street, and the Thompson gang decided to remove the competition, Zarallo said.

About 11 p.m. on March 18, 2006, Zarallo said, Harmon and Bostick were in his silver pickup truck parked on Dover near Thompson when the Collinses approached and fired more than a dozen shots at the pair, killing them.

"It was horrible," Zarallo said. "Latoya Bostick was truly an innocent bystander and her only crime was that she liked Johnny Harmon."

Neither Collins cousin testified. Stretton and defense attorney Michael E. Wallace attacked the credibility of two prosecution witnesses - a Harmon associate, who saw the shooting from inside a rowhouse, and a Collins cousin who said she saw the Collinses fleeing - because of their own criminal histories.

Malik Collins was convicted of two 2005 murders in 2008, according to court records. He was arrested in 2006 after two 15th District police officers had a robbery victim call a cellphone stolen by two men.

A man answered, and the victim said he would pay $100 for the phone's return. When men appeared to collect the cash, police were waiting. One of those arrested was Malik Collins, who was carrying a 9mm pistol


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