NORRISTOWN — A jury determined three Pottstown men, members of a home-grown gang known as “Bud Gang Bitch” or BGB, acted with a specific intent to kill when they took part in the fatal shooting of a rival drug dealer.
Jaquan Marquis “Swizz” Lee, Derrick Goins and Kyshan Scott Brinkley, showed no visible emotion late Thursday as a Montgomery County jury convicted each man of charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in connection with the 10:52 p.m. March 30, 2019, gunshot slaying of Keith “Nas” Robinson, 41, as Robinson sat in the driver’s seat of his vehicle in the 100 block of York Street.
As the jury foreman announced “Guilty” on the charges for each man, some of the two dozen supporters of the men gasped in disbelief and began to weep. The jury deliberated 3½ hours before reaching a verdict.
Judge William R. Carpenter, who presided over the eight-day trial, immediately sentenced each man to life imprisonment, the mandatory term for a conviction of first-degree murder, which is an intentional killing.
“We are happy that the jury got to the right result in this case,” Deputy District Attorney Kelly S. Lloyd reacted to the verdict afterward. “These defendants acted together, so it was a conspiracy case and they executed Keith Robinson in cold blood as he sat in his car unsuspecting, unaware that it was coming.”
Co-Prosecutor Lindsey Mills said the men conspired to kill Robinson, who had ties to Philadelphia, because they believed Robinson was disrespecting them by selling drugs on their turf.
“Keith Robinson was competition to them. They had this conspiracy to eliminate Keith Robinson…and he wasn’t giving them respect so they wanted him out of the way,” Mills said.
The three men turned down the chance to address the courtroom before the judge imposed the life sentences.
“On behalf of my client, he’s disappointed in the jury’s verdict. He believes he has some legitimate appellate issues he wants to pursue and he’s going to continue to fight,” defense lawyer Gregory DiPippo, who represents Goins, said afterward.
Defense lawyer Joseph Todd Schultz, who represents Lee, declined to comment after the verdict.
“He’s obviously disappointed with the verdict. I think it shows that reasonable doubt is a very tough defense in Montgomery County, it doesn’t always play out well with the jurors. We’re disappointed but we respect the jury’s decision and we intend to file the appropriate appeals and see where the case goes from there,” said defense lawyer Francis Genovese, who represents Brinkley.
During the trial, Lloyd and Mills alleged Lee and Brinkley were members of BGB in Pottstown and that Goins was an associate of Lee. Prosecutors showed jurors various social media posts and rap videos, some linked to Lee and Brinkley, which included phrases such as “Loyalty First, Money Second.”
“These are more than words to the defendants. This is a way of life,” Lloyd argued. “You don’t cross Jaquan Lee, Derrick Goins or Kyshan Brinkley. You don’t disrespect them or any member of their crew because if you do, you’ll pay the price with your life.
“This was their turf. They grew up there (Pottstown) and they demanded respect. They tracked down Keith Robinson. There was only one purpose here, this was an assassination. This was an execution,” Lloyd added.
Lee, 27, of the 300 block of Walnut Street, Brinkley, 25, of the 300 block of Beech Street, and Goins, 28, of the 300 block of West Street, were charged under accomplice liability theories.
“Each defendant had their role. No one was a bystander,” Lloyd argued.
Prosecutors claimed evidence showed Lee was the shooter, while Goins was the “lookout” and Brinkley helped set the plan in motion and confessed to a fellow inmate in jail that he had a grudge against Robinson and that Robinson had to be eliminated. Brinkley also claimed to the fellow inmate that he got rid of the murder weapon, a .40-caliber Glock semiautomatic handgun, in Philadelphia, according to testimony. The murder weapon was found in Philadelphia more than a year after the fatal shooting.
A jacket found discarded in a trash can in an area where surveillance video depicted a male running away from the shooting scene was linked to Lee through DNA testing.
Prosecutors praised county and Pottstown detectives for their “dedication” and for working “tirelessly” to solve the case.
But lawyers for the three men argued prosecutors did not present sufficient evidence to link the men to the fatal shooting.
“Saying it is one thing but proving it is another,” Genovese, on behalf of Brinkley, argued during his closing statement to jurors. “The commonwealth has failed miserably to carry their burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”
While there is no question Robinson was killed by a barrage of bullets, the evidence did not establish that any of the three men fired the shots or possessed the murder weapon, defense lawyers argued. The lawyers argued video surveillance footage obtained from the area of the shooting did not positively identify the shooter.
Genovese suggested another man who was linked to a previous shooting in the borough just days earlier could be the killer.
“There is absolutely no question there is still a suspect at-large in this murder,” Genovese argued.
DiPippo, on behalf of Goins, argued there was no evidence that Goins was a member of BGB and he challenged the claim that Goins was the “lookout.”
A witness who was shown a photo array containing headshots of potential suspects during the investigation identified Goins as the man he observed in an alley near the shooting scene around the time of the shooting, which appeared to support prosecutors’ contention that Goins was the “lookout.”
But DiPippo pointed out the witness also told investigators that he “would need to see the full body to be certain.” Full body photos of subjects were not contained in the photo array shown to the witness, according to testimony.
“It is not a positive identification. He gave a qualified identification, not certain. He was mistaken,” DiPippo maintained. “The commonwealth has been dead wrong on their theory in this case.”
Schultz, on behalf of Lee, argued the jury heard conflicting testimony from witnesses and that the prosecution’s evidence could not be trusted.
Prosecutors relied on the testimony of a detective who leads the county’s Violent Crime Unit and who is an expert in gang structure and jargon and drug trafficking, to bolster their claim that the motive in the case was that Robinson was killed because he was a rival drug dealer. The detective analyzed various social media posts and rap videos allegedly made by BGB members and determined gang members used a Manatawny Street apartment as a base of operations and were committing criminal offenses involving illegal drug trafficking and illegally possessing firearms.
Jurors viewed video surveillance footage obtained from cameras at several locations near the shooting scene.
One video depicted a male dressed in dark pants and a jacket walking west on Walnut Street toward the intersection of York Street. A few moments later, the male is observed running east on Walnut Street, behind the Foundry Apartments toward Beech Street.
Other surveillance footage captured audio of 10 gunshots being fired in rapid succession at about 10:52 p.m. Robinson suffered gunshot wounds to the chest and neck and was pronounced dead at Pottstown Hospital.
Prosecutors alleged additional surveillance footage of the scene showed a black minivan traveling west on Walnut Street, twice traveling past Robinson at 10:45 p.m. and 10:47 p.m., just minutes before the shots rang out.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, “The movements of the black minivan, captured on video surveillance are consistent with the known locations of the operator, Jaquan ‘Swizz’ Lee. Lee is seen operating this van at Chestnut Street and Evans Street prior to the homicide. The van is then observed driving by the victim, Keith Robinson, twice before the shooting. Seven minutes after the shooting the van is seen arriving at 206 Manatawny St., an area known to be frequented by Jaquan ‘Swizz’ Lee and his associates.”
Source: Berkshire mont