5 Chester men charged in W. Chester murder

D.A.: ‘The drug game always ends with prison or an early grave’

By Kathleen Brady Shea, Managing Editor, The Times

Jamal A. Scott was gunned down on Jan. 25 in West Chester; five men from Chester have been charged with his homicide, District Attorney Tom Hogan said Tuesday.

Jamal A. Scott was gunned down on Jan. 25 in West Chester; five men from Chester have been charged with his homicide, District Attorney Tom Hogan said Tuesday.

Authorities called the robbery plot common: Target a drug-dealer who won’t be inclined to go to police.

But in this case, the West Chester robbery became a homicide, and an exhaustive, collaborative investigation led to the arrests of five Delaware County men for the Jan. 25 murder of Jamal A. Scott, 24, of West Chester, Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan said Tuesday.

Sergio Droz, 20, of Chester; Anthony Brightwell, 24, of Chester; Calvin Thompson, 21, of Chester; Nafis Janey, 20, of Brookhaven; and Tyrone Palmer, 21, of Chester are all being held without bail on homicide, robbery, conspiracy, and related charges, Hogan said.

 “The drug game is a dangerous game.  There are people who will kill over a few dollars or a small amount of drugs,” said Hogan.  “Now one young man is dead, and five young men face life in prison.  The drug game always ends with prison or an early grave.”

Hogan said the five defendants came to West Chester planning to rob a drug dealer and set up a drug deal with Scott, who attended Delaware County Community College to become an HVAC technician, according to his obituary.

“Over half of all homicides in this country involve drugs,” said West Chester Police Chief Scott L. Bohn, citing the negative community impact. “This investigation is an excellent illustration of best practices, cooperation, innovation and maximum effort.”

The criminal complaint provides the following account:

At 10:56 p.m. on Jan. 25, 2013, police received a telephone call for shots fired at Union and Matlack Streets in West Chester.  West Chester police officers responded to the scene and recovered three spent 9mm shell casings.

Shortly after the report of gunfire, Scott arrived at Chester County Hospital with a gunshot wound to his chest.  He was transported to the trauma center at Paoli Hospital where he was pronounced dead of a gunshot wound to the heart.

A witness at the scene reported seeing two men in the car, a struggle, and a gunshot fired in the car.  Then another man approached the car and fired into the driver’s side of the vehicle.

A review of phone records from the victim’s phone revealed a contact between the victim and Thompson shortly before the homicide.  The police also reviewed hours of video surveillance from the area.  The footage showed Droz and Brightwell together in the area of the homicide moments before the shooting took place, the complaint said.

Through interviews, telephone records and other investigative leads, West Chester Police and Chester County Detectives determined that the five defendants originally met up in the City of Chester on Jan. 25 and established specific roles, the complaint said.

Police said Janey drove the vehicle, Thompson searched out local drug dealers and set up the meeting with Scott, and Palmer supplied the guns, providing a .45 caliber handgun to Brightwell and a 9mm handgun to Droz.

Brightwell went to meet with Scott and got into Scott’s car, which was parked on Union Street. A struggle ensued, and Brightwell fired his gun into the ceiling of the car.  Droz then approached from the outside of the car and fired three shots at Scott while Brightwell grabbed a backpack containing marijuana from the victim’s car, the complaint said.

Both Droz and Brightwell fled on foot.  They then reconnected with Janey, Thompson, and Palmer and returned to Chester, where they divided the marijuana, according to the complaint.

“Drug-related homicides are notoriously difficult to solve, as evidenced every day in places like Philadelphia and the City of Chester,” said Hogan.  “But the West Chester Police Department and the Chester County Detectives, teaming up with law enforcement across the region, worked around the clock to bring this investigation home.”

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 6, at the Chester County Justice Center. Deputy District Attorney Ron Yen will be the prosecutor, Hogan said.


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