Germantown man faces life without parole after Mt. Airy murder conviction

 The scene of the crime in 2012. (Bas Slabbers/for NewsWorks)

The scene of the crime in 2012. (Bas Slabbers/for NewsWorks)

Brian Tootle was convicted of all five charges, including first-degree murder, in connection to the 2012 fatal shooting of Nafis Armstead in Mt. Airy on Thursday.

The 21-year-old Tootle of East Germantown is facing a minimum of life in prison without parole with the possibility of additional years in prison.

Soon after hearing the 12-member-jury’s decision in the Court of Common Pleas, Tootle didn’t show emotion but untucked his shirt and took off his tie then turned to his family and said, “It’s cool. Everything is going to be alright.”

Armstead’s mother, Sharon Armstead, attended all four days of the trial and spoke to the court after the conviction was announced.

“Nafis was my best friend and now all I have is the past,” she said. “Nafis would have wanted me to get justice for him.”

A summer night in Mt. Airy

On July 27, 2012, two men were shot around 8:30 p.m. on the 200 block of East Sharpnack Street in Mt. Airy. The first man, Nafis Armstead was shot seven times and pronounced dead at 8:58 p.m. the same night at Albert Einstein Medical Center.

The second man, 26-year-old Gerald “Geezy” Jones, was also taken to Einstein Medical Center where he eventually recovered from being shot in the thigh and back of his shoulder. Jones testified in court this week that he was unable to identify the shooters because they were wearing bandannas and hats.

Officer Tyrone Broaddus told the court he spotted a minivan shortly after the shooting that matched the escape vehicle’s description and followed it a half a block to Rosemary Lane.

Broaddus said the vehicle stopped in a rear parking lot and two men got out and walked away. He followed the driver into a dark area behind a building where he, and two other officers, found and arrested Tootle. A Glock semi-automatic pistol with an extended magazine was found in the minivan and a revolver was found on a ledge around 10 feet from Tootle.

The commonwealth identified a second suspect, Aka “Ike” Jones, who was not found by police that night and has not been seen since.

A number of witnesses said there was a third perpetrator, however no circumstantial evidence was presented which could confirm a third suspect.

The defense

Tootle’s final charges included first or third-degree murder, conspiracy murder and three other firearm violation crimes. The commonwealth never discussed a motive for the shooting.

The defense’s case focused on Tootle being misidentified between when the men got out of the minivan and Broaddus got behind the building.

In the closing statements, one of Tootle’s defense attorneys, Shaka Johnson, argued that the evidence placing Tootle at the crime scene and in the van was not believable.

After nearly a half-hour of convening Thursday afternoon, the jury had their verdict.

Reaction and next steps

Johnson said he was shocked by the results.

“I think it is a travesty,” Johnson said. “But you inherit the facts as they are. I thought there was considerable doubt.”

Tootle’s second attorney, Shawn Page, also said he believed the prosecution hadn’t proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Assistant District Attorney Richard Sax, the commonwealth’s prosecuting lawyer, said although he believes it brings little closure, justice had been served.

“It accomplishes the confirmation that the jury process still works,” Sax said, “that someone can be held accountable.”

Sax told NewsWorks that there will be another trial for the shooting when Jones is found. 

Tootle’s sentence hearing is scheduled for Sept. 12.

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