Anderson sentenced to 4 years detention for witness intimidation on Twitter

A Philadelphia teen will spend the next four years of his life at a juvenile detention center for using his Twitter account to intimidate crime witnesses in the city.

Nasheen Anderson, 17, was sentenced Dec. 4 after admitting in Family Court that he posted photos of shooting victims and secret documents to the popular social-media website.

Anderson, a Martin Luther King High School student, will be released from a to-be-determined facility when he is 21, the maximum age that an adjudicated youth can be detained.

The East Germantown resident will be transferred to the facility by Dec. 31.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Police arrested Anderson at MLK in West Oak Lane in mid-November after investigators confirmed that the Twitter handle in question belonged to the teen.

Anderson was charged with witness intimidation and terroristic threats for calling witnesses “rats” and disclosing information that was supposed to be kept confidential to protect witnesses, including victim photos and statements made to detectives.

Police came across the account, which had more than 2,400 followers, while investigating a 2012 shooting in Southwest Philadelphia, where Anderson lived before moving to East Germantown.

Against the backdrop of the “no snitch” culture that thrives in part of the city, the Philadelphia district attorney’s office wanted Anderson to be tried as an adult. Family Court Judge Kevin Dougherty denied that request during Anderson’s preliminary hearing earlier this month.

Neither Anderson’s lawyer Timothy McCullough nor Assistant District Attorney Jan McDermott, who is prosecuting the case, were immediately available for comment Monday, when Anderson was expected to be sentenced. The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office said that, because Anderson was tried as a juvenile and not an adult, they are unable to discuss details of the case.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal