Cops say suspect admitted shooting W.C. man
MEDIA >> Accused killer Leyron D. Johns admitted to fatally shooting 27-year-old Joseph Torres in a taped interview with detectives last year, but said it was out of fear of a former codefendant.
Johns, 20, of the 800 block of West Fifth Street in Chester, is charged with murder in the first-, second- and third-degree, robbery, theft by unlawful taking and possession of a controlled substance for the July 27, 2015, shooting death of Joseph Torres at the Mano’s Gulf station in the 900 block of Kerlin Street.
Johns initially told Delaware County Detective Adam Sendak and Chester Police Cpl. William Carey during the interview Oct. 10, 2015, that he had gotten into Torres’ truck that day to help him find pills, but denied any involvement in the shooting.
Sendak explained to Johns that police had seen video of him telling someone else that he needed to “fall back” because he “caught a body” with Myers, who Johns referred to as “Ron Gees.”
Johns, represented by defense attorney William Wismer, asked Sendak if he could start over, then said Myers came to a friend’s house July 27 and said he had a buyer for Percocet pills. Johns said Myers asked him to walk to the meeting spot with him because Myers did not have the pills and intended to rob the buyer.
“The guy didn’t have no money, so I guess he was trying to burn Gees,” said Johns. “So Gees told me pull out the gun. I pulled out
the gun and I said to the guy, ‘Just give it to him.’ And the guy said, ‘I don’t got it.’ So Gees tell me – he said, ‘Shoot him.’”
Johns said he balked at first, but Myers told him that if he did not shoot, Torres would report them to the police for an attempted robbery.
“So I shot the guy,” said Johns. “Gees said, ‘Get his keys,’ so I grab his keys and I give them to Gees.”
Myers, 23, entered an open guilty plea last month to third-degree murder, robbery, and conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance for his involvement in the case.
He testified Tuesday that Johns had set up the drug deal earlier in the day using Myers’ phone and invited him to come along for the meet. Myers said Johns provided him with a bottle of pills to give to Torres.
Torres allegedly showed Myers a picture of the pills he wanted to buy on his phone. Myers said he also showed the picture to Johns.
“Next thing I know, Leyron pulls the gun out,” said Myers. “He has it to the back of (Torres’) head. Torres is moving, I tells him if he got anything to give it up and Leyron shoots him.”
Myers denied any prior knowledge that a robbery was going to take place, but did acknowledge that he pushes Torres in video surveillance. He said Johns took Torres’ car keys out of his pocket and the two ran to the pickup, which Torres pointed out earlier.
Myers said he drove the truck to an alley at Second and Union streets at Johns’ direction, then walked back to Fifth Street with Johns, where they parted ways.
Fingerprints collected from the truck matched Johns, according to county Detective David McDonald, an expert in fingerprint investigation and identification.
Veronica Miller, a forensic DNA scientist with the Pennsylvania State Police, also testified that Johns could not be excluded from DNA samples taken from inside the truck.
Sendak said Johns denied being under the influence of PCP at the time of the shooting, but later claimed to have taken Xanax that night.
Johns also claimed in the interview that he was afraid of Myers, who he said had a reputation for hurting people. Johns said in the recording that he was afraid his family might be in danger if Myers was arrested for attempted robbery.
Sendak and Senior Deputy District Attorney Michael McDevitt also read a series of text messages allegedly sent between Torres and Johns setting up the deal, in which Torres indicates he does not trust Johns and wants to meet him alone. The deal was for 20 or 30 pills of 30mg Percocet at $20 apiece.
The bench trial before Judge Gregory Mallon was expected to conclude Friday.