Stab­bing sus­pect to stand trial for mur­der

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Evan Brandt ebrandt@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @PottstownNews on Twit­ter

POTTSTOWN » All charges against the home­less man ac­cused of stab­bing a 35-year-old man to death dur­ing a fight on High Street July 30 were held over for trial on Fri­day.

Dur­ing the pre­lim­i­nary hear­ing, District Judge Edward C. Kropp Sr. wasted no time in con­firm­ing the charges of first-de­gree mur­der, third-de­gree mur­der and pos­sess­ing the in­stru­ment of a crime against Steven

Holmes, 54, and set­ting a for­mal ar­raign­ment on those charges for Nov. 22 in Montgomery County Court.

Ac­cord­ing to court records and tes­ti­mony of­fered Fri­day by Montgomery County De­tec­tive Todd Richard, Holmes stabbed Di­a­monde Stone dur­ing an al­ter­ca­tion in the 300 block of High Street.

Richard tes­ti­fied that Holmes ad­mit­ted to the crime on Aug. 22 after be­ing ap­pre­hended in Philadel­phia where he had fled after the stab­bing. Holmes said Stone had struck him first and that the fight they were hav­ing was about crys­tal meth, an il­le­gal nar­cotic.

Stone also told Richard that Stone had been say­ing cruel things about his girl­friend Carolyn Ayala and that a sec­ond male was also strik­ing him dur­ing his al­ter­ca­tion with Stone.

Richard and Pottstown De­tec­tive Thomas Le­han had tracked Holmes to the city after he was iden­ti­fied on July 31 as the pri­mary sus­pect in the mur­der.

His iden­ti­fi­ca­tion as a sus­pect oc­curred on July 31 after Richard and Pottstown Po­lice De­tec­tive Heather Long in­ter­viewed Denise But­ler, who lives in the 300 block of High Street and had let Holmes and Ayala stay in her apart­ment overnight.

But­ler told po­lice she had heard the fight and af­ter­ward Ayala came in and said Holmes had “stomped ‘Clutch,’” a nick­name for the mur­der vic­tim. Ayala was fol­lowed into the apart­ment by Holmes who had “blood on his arm.”

After learn­ing Stone had died, But­ler told the cou­ple to talk to the po­lice, ac­cord­ing to the af­fi­davit of prob­a­ble cause, but they left her apart­ment and left behind a black bag which But­ler put out­side the apart­ment and showed to po­lice when she was in­ter­viewed.

Richard, who had Holmes’ cell phone number due to nu­mer­ous pre­vi­ous con­tacts with him, called Holmes and a phone in­side the bag be­gan to ring, he tes­ti­fied.

After look­ing for Holmes for weeks, Richard acted on in­for­ma­tion he was hid­ing in Philadel­phia. When he and Le­han went to search, they saw Holmes and Ayala walk­ing on the street near the in­ter­sec­tion of Emer­ald and Le­high streets in the West Kens­ing­ton area of the city, Richard tes­ti­fied.

Un­der cross ex­am­i­na­tion from Holmes’s public de­fender Car­rie All­man, Richard also tes­ti­fied that Holmes had told him he was a heroin user, a fact Richard had been aware

of since 2015 when Holmes tes­ti­fied in a case for Richard.

Holmes, who sat in court hand­cuffed to a leather belt around a red prison jump suit that ex­posed the tatoos on both fore­arms, did not tes­tify.

All­man tried to ar­gue that be­cause the mur­der oc­curred dur­ing a fight, when Holmes was de­fend­ing him­self and his girl­friend, that the charge of first-de­gree mur­der should be dropped, but Kropp agreed with as­sis­tant district at­tor­ney Christo­pher Daniels that a pre­lim­i­nary hear­ing was not the place to make that de­ci­sion.

After the hear­ing, Daniels told re­porters that al­though this is not likely to be a death penalty case, the first-de­gree mur­der charge should be up­held be­cause “you can pre-med­i­tate a mur­der in a frac­tion of a sec­ond.”

He said the fact that, ac­cord­ing to Richard’s tes­ti­mony, Stone and Holmes had been sep­a­rated when Holmes pulled a knife from his pants pocket, meant Holmes could have walked away or used the knife to threaten Stone to stop the fight.

“But instead, he ran at him and stabbed him in the heart. That shows a spe­cific in­tent to kill,” said Daniels.

DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA FILE PHOTO

Steven Holmes, charged with mur­der in fa­tal Pottstown stab­bing.

DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA FILE PHOTO

Di­a­monde Stone was stab­bled to death on Aug. 22 in Pottstown.

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