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Capital punishment

A Point Breeze man will be killed by lethal injection for taking the life of a man who once mentored him.

By Amanda L. Snyder
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Mar. 8, 2012

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Derrick White

A high school basketball standout turned youth mentor lost his life speaking up about neighborhood violence. His killer was sentenced to death Feb. 29.

A jury convicted Derrick “Heavy” White, 21, of the 1200 block of South 23rd Street, Feb. 28 of gunning down Abdul Taylor, 32, of the 2200 block of Ellsworth Street, at 8:55 p.m. May 6, 2010. Taylor, who remains the No. 1 scorer in basketball at Charles Y. Audenried Sr. High School, 3301 Tasker St., was shot once in the head and died at noon the following day.

“Abdul Taylor — good guy. Great guy, father of eight, took care of his kids, a basketball coach and mentor at [Southwest Philly’s] Kingsessing Rec Center and a guy who had got encouraged enough to step forward,” Assistant District Attorney Richard Sax said Tuesday.

Taylor had mentored many neighborhood kids and knew White, as well as Allen Moment Jr., who was shot 15 times at 22nd and Pierce streets in ’06 and survived until ’08. Shortly before Moment’s death, Taylor identified Moment’s three shooters. His statement was passed along to the defense lawyers in the case.

“Like all witness statements — to protect them, we take out their address,” Sax said. “We can’t take out the name … Taking out his address was almost meaningless [in Taylor’s case] because everyone knows who he is.”

In his neighborhood, Taylor was labeled immediately as a “rat” and a “snitch,” Sax said. The night of his death his mother sent him to get sugar. The mother thought she heard a car crash, but when she looked out the window, she saw a man on the ground. She didn’t realize it was her son until she saw the sugar.

“He died with this bag of sugar spilled all over the street,” Sax said. “… She sees the sugar. She’s crushed beyond comprehension.”

While no witnesses came forward, DNA linked White, then 20, to the crime.

“What Derrick White did was as he’s running away, his hat comes off his head. His sweat and therefore his DNA is in the hat rim,” Sax said also noting White threw his sweatshirt with his holster attached, which also carried his DNA, into someone’s yard as he fled on Alder Street.

When brought in for questioning, White eventually admitted to the crime, Sax said, but told authorities he killed Taylor because he heard he was good with his fists and was afraid he was going to beat him up.

A three-day jury trial led to White’s conviction for first-degree murder, criminal conspiracy engaging first-degree murder, retaliation against a witness or victim, firearms not to be carried without a license, carrying firearms in public in Philadelphia, and possession of an instrument of crime, according to court records. The next day the jury sentenced White to death by lethal injection. White already was serving a five- to 10-year sentence after pleading guilty in November to a ’10 shooting of two men at 24th and Christian streets.

“Remorseless,” Sax said of White’s reaction to the most recent verdict and sentencing, adding that White turned around and smirked to both his and Taylor’s family.

Contact Managing Editor Amanda L. Snyder at asnyder@southphillyreview.com or ext. 117.

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