DA Charges 4 Men In Plot To Bribe And Kill Witness

DA Charges 4 Men In Plot To Bribe And Kill Witness

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Police have four men in custody they say tried to murder the man on the very day he was set to testify. Police have four men in custody they say tried to murder the man on the very day he was set to testify.
CENTER CITY -

Police have four men in custody they say tried to murder the man on the very day he was set to testify.

42-year old Troy Cooper is one of four defendants now charged in a vicious plot to stop a witness from testifying against Cooper's friend in a gun case that has now turned into a case of attempted murder.

"When thugs and criminals threaten to bribe and murder those witnesses, the very essence and core of our system is at risk," District Attorney Seth Williams said at a press conference to announce criminal charges in the case.

It started when 37-year-old Aki Jones was arrested in North Philadelphia in 2010 on a gun charge. A man in the neighborhood witnessed the crime and agreed to testify against Jones.

The day before the trial was to start at the Criminal Justice Center, investigators say Cooper approached the witness on the street and offered him a $500 bribe not to testify. The witness refused. The next day on his way to the trial, he was confronted on 25th Street by Shaheed Williams and shot.

"The shooter here, Shaheed Williams, says "you won't talk no more" and stands over his victim execution style and fires that final bullet," explained Assistant DA Douglas Rhoads.

The witness survived and investigators went to work piecing the murder plot together. On Wednesday, they charged Jones with ordering the attempted hit from prison. Cooper, Williams and Charles Alexander were also charged.

"If you attempt to intimidate or retaliate against any witness, whether federal or state, you're going to be identified, arrested and spend a very long time behind bars," said ATF Special Agent in Charge Sam Rabadi.

DA Williams has filed over 2,600 witness intimidation cases since 2011, including 145 cases already this year.

"We will not sit idly by and let cowards attempt to intimidate or murder witnesses," the DA added.

The witness in this case is now in protective custody and will testify against the four defendants.

Aki Jones, the accused mastermind of this plot, is now in federal prison on gun charges. He could have faced probation or a short jail term in the original gun case. He now faces a possible life sentence in this case.

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