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Jury convicts two men of homicide in gunshot slaying along Schuylkill River Trail

NORRISTOWN — Two men, one from Norristown and the other from Philadelphia, sat stone-faced at the defense table as a Montgomery County jury determined they were responsible for the gunshot slaying of a former Reading man on the Schuylkill River Trail in West Norriton.

Cody Kavon Reed, 24, of the 300 block of West Marshall Street, Norristown, and Marquise Alexander Johnson, 24, of the 500 block of East Johnson Street, Philadelphia, were convicted on Thursday of charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy, robbery, possessing an instrument of crime and flight to avoid apprehension in connection with the 9 p.m. March 2, 2023, gunshot slaying of Daquan Kennard Tucker, 25, a former Reading resident, who was staying with his girlfriend along Rogers Road in Lower Providence at the time of his death.

First-degree murder is an intentional killing and is punishable by life imprisonment. Judge William R. Carpenter will formally impose the life prison terms at a later date.

The jury of six men and six women deliberated five hours before reaching the verdict. The jury acquitted the men of a charge of carrying a firearm without a license.

Cody Kavon Reed, 24, of Norristown, is escorted by sheriff's deputies to a Montgomery County courtroom for his homicide trial on June 3, 2024. (Photo by Carl Hessler Jr. - MediaNews Group)
Cody Kavon Reed, 24, of Norristown, is escorted by sheriff’s deputies to a Montgomery County courtroom for his homicide trial on June 3, 2024. (Photo by Carl Hessler Jr. – MediaNews Group)

“We’re happy that my brother Daquan Tucker got justice,” Kenyada Tucker, sister of the victim, reacted to the verdict afterward.

Tucker’s mother, Cicely McCarty, wearing a necklace that included a photo of her son, described him as “a very funny guy.”

“He’s a good friend. He was very loyal. He was a very good person,” McCarty said.

As they were led by sheriff’s deputies from the courtroom after the verdict to await sentencing, Reed and Johnson each vowed to appeal the conviction.

“Shocked, that’s what appeals are for though,” Reed responded to a reporter’s question.

Marquise Johnson is escorted by a deputy sheriff from a Montgomery County courtroom on June 5, 2024, during a break at his homicide trial. (Photo by Carl Hessler Jr. - MediaNews Group)
Marquise Johnson is escorted by a deputy sheriff from a Montgomery County courtroom on June 5, 2024, during a break at his homicide trial. (Photo by Carl Hessler Jr. – MediaNews Group)

Assistant District Attorney Kathleen Alane McLaughlin and co-prosecutor Caitlin Faith O’Malley were pleased with the verdict.

“I’m happy that after taking a careful look at the evidence in this case that the jury came to the correct conclusion, that both defendants were guilty of first-degree murder,” McLaughlin reacted to the verdict. “All along the evidence pointed to the fact that both defendants intended to kill Daquan Tucker on the night of March 2, 2023. That night they had the specific intent to kill.”

It was the second time that Reed and Johnson faced a jury in connection with the murder.

In February, after hearing four days of testimony and deliberating eight hours over two days, another jury told the judge it was deadlocked. Carpenter declared a mistrial at that time and prosecutors vowed to retry Reed and Johnson.

The retrial began on Monday.

McLaughlin and O’Malley argued Reed and Johnson had “an agreement” to lure Tucker to the “desolate and secluded” recreational trail to kill him.

“Their actions show us their agreement. Their actions show us their intention when they lured him to this area of the trail. The last time we see (Tucker) alive he is with these two,” McLaughlin dramatically pointed at Reed and Johnson, seated at the defense table, during her closing statement to the jury on Thursday. “All trails lead to Cody and Marquise.”

Prosecutors pointed to cellphone data and video surveillance footage that indicated the three men were walking in the area of West Main and Chain streets in Norristown at 8:39 p.m. March 2 toward the trail where Tucker was ultimately killed.

“Daquan is executed with three gunshots to his head,” McLaughlin argued, adding evidence showed Reed and Johnson exited the trail without Tucker but with Tucker’s cellphone. “They left him for dead on the Schuylkill River Trail.”

Detectives testified cellphone location data then tracked Tucker’s phone traveling from the area of the trail in West Norriton and back toward Norristown where Reed resided. Prosecutors argued the cellphone evidence was consistent with footage from various surveillance cameras in the Norristown area that depicted Reed and Johnson walking away from the trail on Schuylkill Avenue at about 9:38 p.m. and then along West Airy Street at 10:06 p.m., without Tucker, but at the same place and time where cellphone location data placed Tucker’s cellphone.

McLaughlin and O’Malley argued it was no coincidence that Reed and Johnson were the last people seen with Tucker and that they were in possession of Tucker’s cellphone after he was killed.

“Obviously, the cellphone evidence was extremely strong. But because we also had the video evidence and all the other evidence in this case, I do think that combination of the video and the cellphones was the most important,” O’Malley said afterward.

Prosecutors praised the work of detectives who painstakingly analyzed cellphone data and viewed more than 50 hours of surveillance video that helped link the men to the murder.

Marquise Johnson, 24, of Philadelphia, is escorted by a deputy sheriff from a Montgomery County courtroom on June 3, 2024, during a break at his homicide trial. (Photo by Carl Hessler Jr. - MediaNews Group)
Marquise Johnson, 24, of Philadelphia, is escorted by a deputy sheriff from a Montgomery County courtroom on June 3, 2024, during a break at his homicide trial. (Photo by Carl Hessler Jr. – MediaNews Group)

Prosecutors did not have to present a motive for the killing.

“There was nothing in the evidence that pointed to the specific reason as to why they did this and the law does not require us to prove motive. I, of course, would love to know why they did this. But I also think that even though I can’t give you a definitive motive, the evidence showed that they were the ones that did this, even if we don’t know why,” McLaughlin said.

There were no eyewitnesses to the killing and no murder weapon was recovered. But prosecutors argued that while they don’t know which of the two men fired the fatal shots, circumstantial evidence pointed to Reed and Johnson as the killers.

Reed and Johnson were charged with homicide under accomplice liability theories. Prosecutors argued jurors can rely on circumstantial evidence alone to convict the men.

But defense lawyer Brendan Michael Campbell, who represents Reed, argued that while all three men were hanging out together at some point on March 2 there was no DNA, fingerprint, footprint or gun evidence to link Reed to Tucker’s death. Campbell argued that none of the video surveillance footage presented at trial depicted Reed or Johnson with a gun.

“There’s a lot of holes in this case. There’s a lack of evidence,” Campbell argued during his closing statement to jurors, asking them to be critical of and to scrutinize the prosecution’s evidence. “There’s no direct evidence. They are spoon-feeding you their version of what they think happened.”

Defense lawyer John Francis McCaul, who represents Johnson, argued there was no physical or forensic evidence to link Johnson or Reed to the crime and he suggested prosecutors did not have evidence that any agreement existed between Johnson and Reed. McCaul suggested Tucker “ran in a dangerous circle” and someone other than Reed or Johnson killed Tucker.

“The absence of evidence, the lack of evidence, doesn’t help the prosecution. The absence of evidence, the lack of evidence, leads to reasonable doubt,” McCaul addressed jurors during his closing argument, suggesting the investigation was inadequate and that detectives rushed to judgment against Reed and Johnson.

Campbell and McCaul, who suggested that cellphone data analysis is not an exact science and could not be trusted, jointly argued that no one knows what happened to Tucker between 9 p.m. March 2 and 9 a.m. March 3 when his body was discovered along the trail.

“There’s so many different possibilities of what happened that night,” Campbell argued.

Cody Reed, of Norristown, donned sunglasses as he was escorted to and from a Montgomery County courtroom on June 5, 2024, during breaks at his homicide trial. (Photo by Carl Hessler Jr. - MediaNews Group)
Cody Reed, of Norristown, donned sunglasses as he was escorted to and from a Montgomery County courtroom on June 5, 2024, during breaks at his homicide trial. (Photo by Carl Hessler Jr. – MediaNews Group)

Reed and Johnson, prosecutors alleged, fled from Norristown within two hours of the slaying and remained on the lam until April 6, 2023, when they were apprehended in Atlantic City by members of the U.S. Marshals Service and local police at an Airbnb on North Rhode Island Avenue.

The homicide investigation began at about 9:03 a.m. March 3, 2023, when a citizen riding his bicycle along the Schuylkill River Trail on the border of Norristown and West Norriton called 911 to report seeing a body in a wooded area between the trail and the Schuylkill River, according to the criminal complaint filed by county Detective John Wittenberger and West Norriton Detective Mark Wassmer.

Arriving officers found Tucker, “lying in the wooded area down a steep embankment, approximately 100 feet from the trail,” with apparent gunshot wounds and detectives recovered two .40-caliber fired cartridge casings in close proximity to Tucker, detectives said.

Detectives testified an analysis of the casings determined they were fired from the same unknown firearm.

Authorities found no identification, no cellphone, and no wallet with Tucker and they used a fingerprint scanner to identify Tucker.

An autopsy determined Tucker died of multiple gunshot wounds, two to the head and one to the neck, and the manner of death was ruled to be homicide. Tucker did not exhibit signs of any defensive wounds.

Testimony revealed a female friend of Tucker’s phoned a brother of Tucker in the early morning hours of March 3 out of concern that Tucker never arrived at the Lower Providence residence they shared as planned by 11 p.m. March 2 and that he was missing. The woman, who was dating Tucker, subsequently told detectives she believed a man named “Cody” sent an Uber to their residence for Tucker earlier and Tucker left in the Uber and hadn’t been seen since then, according to testimony.

Witnesses said when they checked Tucker’s location on the “Find My iPhone” feature it indicated his location was on the Schuylkill River Trail near Norristown between 8:57 p.m. and 9 p.m. March 2 in the exact location where his body eventually was found. A check of Tucker’s cellphone location at 10:06 p.m. on March 2 indicated it was in the area of the 1000 block of West Airy Street, authorities said.

Detectives obtained video surveillance footage that showed Tucker arriving at Reed’s residence a little after 7 p.m. on March 2. Surveillance footage at 8:39 p.m. showed Reed, Tucker and Johnson, all of whom knew each other, walking toward the Schuylkill River Trail, according to court papers.

“The three then walked to a secluded area of the Schuylkill River Trail in West Norriton Township where Tucker was shot numerous times and killed and his property removed from him,” Wittenberger and Wassmer alleged in the arrest affidavit.

Video surveillance captured Reed and Johnson walking along West Airy Street at 10:06 p.m., the same place and time that witnesses previously told detectives the “Find My iPhone” feature located Tucker’s phone. Investigators alleged Reed and Johnson were in possession of Tucker’s cellphone after he had been shot and killed.

At 10:21 p.m., video surveillance depicted Reed and Johnson returning to Reed’s apartment on West Marshall Street, according to testimony.


Source: Berkshire mont

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