Murder victim’s best friend braves threats to testify at preliminary hearing

The 5100 block of Irving Street where Leon McMillan was shot to death in April 2011. Credit: Google Maps The 5100 block of Irving Street where Leon McMillan was shot to death in April 2011. Credit: Google Maps

On April 25, 2011, two hours after Marcus Jackson was attacked by five men on the 5100 block of Irving Street over a weed sale gone wrong, he returned to shoot one of the men dead, prosecutors say.

One of the victim’s best friends described seeing Leon McMillan, 27, die at a preliminary hearing Wednesday.

“He died in my arms,” the witness testified.

He said Jackson, a.k.a. “Face,” 26, pulled the trigger in revenge for the earlier fight.

In May 2014, neighbors saw this witness, who has since been relocated by law enforcement, picked up by police for more questions about the shooting.

“Everybody started calling me snitch, wearing ‘Free Face’ T-shirts, wearing 40s [.40 caliber handguns] on their hips, coming up to me, saying they’re gonna do stuff to me,” he said. “I don’t have friends after all this stuff happened.”

He has been threatened not to testify, including by a man who he pointed out in the audience at the hearing.

“If these people had something to do with the case, why would you let these people sit in the courtroom?” Judge Teresa Carr Deni asked, before ordering the audience member in question to leave the courtroom.

Additionally, Westley Richardson, 22, testified at the hearing about statements he made to police.

Richardson told detectives that after McMillan was shot, he and Jackson drove to Southwest Philadelphia, where Jackson cut off his dredlocks while sitting in the car.

But at the hearing he denied some of his statements and denied identifying Jackson by the nickname “Face.”

“I don’t know who Face is,” he said. “The whole time they asked me questions they didn’t use the name Face.”

Jackson’s lawyer Eugene Tinari questioned the veracity of the statements of both witnesses.

“These witnesses are incredible. They all have motives to fabricate a story,” he said.

He cited the fact that between 2011 and 2014, the witness who had to be relocated made five different statements to police.

“He provided not one, not two, but five different statements,” he said. “His credibility, to me, has been called into question.”

But prosecutor Erin Boyle argued that she allowed the witness to point out one of the individuals who threatened him in the courtroom to demonstrate to the court why the witness made multiple statements — due to fear of witness intimidation or retribution.

Jackson was held for court on murder charges.

He will return to court September 3.

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