Two "bastards," bent on robbing a realtor, are facing murder charges for carjacking and sexually assaulting the woman before running down a family selling fruit on a Philadelphia sidewalk, city law enforcement officials say. Three children, all siblings, were killed.
Jonathan Rosa, 19, and Cornelius Crawford, 23, face 15 charges each including three counts of 2nd Degree Murder, Carjacking, Kidnapping and Involuntary Deviant Sexual Assault for the alleged Friday morning crime.
“I want to personally thank Commissioner Ramsey, Captain Clark, all the men and women of the Philadelphia Police Department for their exceptional work in bringing these two bastards to justice," Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said. "All Philadelphians were moved to tears by this crime."
Homicide Capt. James Clark said Crawford and Rosa wanted to commit a robbery when they forced the real estate agent into her white Toyota SUV at gunpoint at 6th and Cumberland Streets around 11 a.m. on Friday. They then took off. Inside the truck, the realtor was sexually assaulted as the suspects sped through the streets of the Tioga section of North Philadelphia.
(Officials have identified the agent, but it is NBC10's policy not to name the victims of sexual assault.)
Then about 10 minutes later, one of the SUV's tires blew, causing vehicle to careen out of control at the busy intersection of Germantown and Allegheny Avenues, Clark said. The vehicle jumped the curb and slammed directly into the family as they stood at their fruit stand.
Joseph Thomas Reed, 10, died on the sidewalk. His sister Keiearra Williams, 15, and brother Terrence Moore, 7, passed away at area hospitals, police said. Their mother, 34-year-old Keisha Williams, suffered severe injuries and remains hospitalized -- unaware her children have died.
A family friend, 65-year-old Thelma Brown, was also hit and broke her ankle, officials said.
The group were selling the fruit to help their church raise money to build a playground at the site where the crash happened.
The SUV then skidded across the grass and slammed into a tree. Clark said Crawford and Rosa then jumped out and ran. Inside the SUV, remained the carjacking victim. She was also critically hurt, police said.
A witness to the crash found Rosa's cell phone at the crash scene and turned it over to detectives. Clark said that evidence helped lead investigators to the men.
Both men were taken into custody on Sunday. Crawford has a long criminal history and was recently released from prison following a robbery conviction, prosecutors said. He was found hiding behind a home along the 2900 block of N. 6th Street by U.S. Marshals and detectives. Rosa turned himself in to the Homicide Unit alongside his mother and pastor.
Rosa's attorney, Christopher Warren, says his client is cooperating with detectives to try and "atone" for the crash, the attorney said.
"He turned himself in, and he is doing everything in his power to try and atone for what happened last Friday," Warren said. "Quite frankly, he's having an extremely difficult time getting over the image of that 15-year-old girl coming over the hood of the car."
A post on Rosa's Facebook page from 8:15 a.m. on Friday said "Good and evil two sides fighting for dominance." Later that evening, at 9:42 p.m., Rosa's mother Amanda wrote on his page: "Please pray for Jonathan my son."
Josue Rosa, the man's uncle, tells NBC10.com his nephew is a good kid, without a criminal record, who had just taken a test to join the U.S. Marines. He believes the 19-year-old was pressured by the other suspect to take part in the carjacking.
"I don’t want my nephew to do life in prison. If he was involved, alright. Don’t give my nephew life in prison. He’s not a bad kid. He's not the one who was driving," he said.
Clark had less empathy for the teen and his alleged co-conspirator.
"What they did was indefensible and unforgivable, so whatever remorse they might have does not bring back the children," he said.
City officials thanked the public for helping to find the two men and for offering support to the victims. DA Williams said former NBA and Philadelphia 76ers star Charles Barkley called him to say he wanted to pay for the three children's funeral.
Should the two men be found guilty of the accused crimes at the maximum sentencing, they face three consecutive life terms in prison plus another 89 years.