One of two suspects arrested in Philadelphia in connection to the death of a 25-year-old Temple University graduate shot while walking his dog had been freed just two weeks earlier on bail dramatically reduced in part because of coronavirus pandemic-related court closures.
District Attorney Larry Krasner said in a statement Sunday night that his office had argued in two separate cases last year that 20-year-old Davis L. Josephus be held in jail, “yet bail was lowered by judges over our objections.” Josephus is facing several charges, including murder, conspiracy, robbery and illegal firearm offenses after allegedly shooting Milan Loncar in Brewerytown Wednesday.
Police said surveillance video showed two men approach Loncar on the street before 7 p.m. — one pointing a gun at him – before both reached for his pants pockets. Loncar was shot once in the chest. He was still clutching the leash of his rescue dog when officers arrived.
Loncar graduated from Temple University in 2019. He had planned to move in with his girlfriend next month.
Philadelphia Police Department Inspector Derrick Wood said in a tweet Sunday that Josephus was out on the street with two open felony cases because his bail was reduced from $ 200,000 to $ 12,000.
“This is ridiculous and another example of bail decisions that are being made without considering the safety of the community. Consequences matter,” Wood said.
Responding to his colleague’s tweet, Philadelphia Police Department Captain Matthew Gillespie added, “This is disgusting and inexcusable! It is nauseating to hear of constant bail reductions on violent individuals! Milan and this city deserves better.”
About an hour and a half after Loncar was fatally shot, Josephus was taken into custody around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday in connection to an unrelated alleged carjacking the day earlier, Fox 29 Philadelphia reported. Four men fled from the vehicle, but police captured Josephus, who was the driver.
Josephus – who had been arrested five times since January 2019 — was charged on Feb. 19, 2020, with 11 counts, including kidnapping for ransom, robbery, car theft, firearms violations and other charges, in connection to an incident that previous July. The victim, in that case, was an Uber driver, Jane Roh, a spokesperson for Krasner, told The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Bail was initially set at $ 100,000, but months later Senior Municipal Court Judge Teresa Carr Deni lowered that amount to just $ 20,000 after the eighth time authorities scheduled and then failed to hold a preliminary hearing for the case, partially due to pandemic-related courthouse closures.
On Dec. 29, Josephus posted the required 10% of the sum – just $ 2,000.
While he remained jailed, Josephus was charged in a separate case in September after allegedly attacking and threatening a prison guard. Bail was set at $ 200,000 in that case, but Municipal Court Judge Charles Hayden later granted a motion from an unidentified lawyer with the Defender Association of Philadelphia to reduce Josephus’ bail on aggravated assault and harassment charges to just $ 12,000, the Inquirer reported, citing court records.
On Dec. 29, Josephus again posted the required 10% – just $ 1,200. Sixteen days later, on Jan. 13, Loncar was killed. Josephus and Loncar lived just two streets away from one another, according to the newspaper.
Krasner also blamed increased illegal firearms on the street for Loncar’s murder, reiterating that the district attorney’s office does not set bail. The judiciary sets bail, after hearing arguments from the prosecution and defense, he said.
“We will have more to say on this matter as more information from our partners in the criminal justice system becomes available,” he said.
“This violent act robbed a young man of his life and future, and inflicted additional violence on the family and community that grieves him. The harm caused by the individuals responsible extends farther outward, to the neighborhood and city where a young man was killed in the early evening hours while walking his dog,” Krasner added. “It’s not fair, nor is it just – but sadly, it is directly related to firearms outnumbering people in a vacuum of reasonable regulation.”
A second suspect, who has not been publicly named by authorities, has also been taken into custody in connection to Loncar’s murder, police announced Saturday, without providing further details.