Deandre Barnes, the 19-year-old man charged in connection with the fatal South Philadelphia hit-and-run of a Rock School dance student in March, was held for trial on multiple charges after a 90-minute preliminary hearing Wednesday.
Assistant District Attorney John Doyle presented two witnesses at the Broad and Ellsworth streets scene in the early hours of March 18.
While neither Ashley Vaughn nor John Cavanagh testified that they saw Barnes’ green Audi strike Polina Kadiyska, both placed the suspect as the driver who fled the scene after allegedly striking the woman and then two parked cars. Vaughn testified that she was in another vehicle around which an Audi swerved while driving north on Broad Street at “highway speed.” She saw a pedestrian in the crosswalk when the Audi sped through a red light but didn’t see any attempt to slow down or signs of brake lights.“When I got out of the car, [Kadiyska] was breathing, not talking. She was stretched out and blood was coming from everywhere,” testified Vaughn, who quickly escorted one of her friends away “because she was crying.”For his part, Cavanagh was at Broad and Washington streets when he saw a vehicle crash into two parked cars and called it in to 911. Though he’d been out celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in the hours prior to the 3:55 a.m. crash, he described the driver as a tall, skinny black male wearing a green and pink shirt and khakis.He and another person “jogged” away from the scene, both witnesses testified, but returned to fetch a bag from the trunk of the Audi. Barnes, who passed “within two or three feet” of Cavanagh while fleeing, was arrested soon thereafter, not far from Broad and Washington streets.Doyle also put Accident Investigation Bureau Police Officer Thomas O’Neill on the stand. O’Neill, who responded to the scene that night, testified that the Audi registered to Barnes struck Kadiyska, based on evidence from damage to the car and “long black strands of human hair enmeshed with ketchup” on the vehicle.Kadiyska, a 22-year-old from Bulgaria, had just come from a Chinese restaurant near the intersection and a bag with French fries and ketchup packets was found in close proximity to her body.The aspiring ballerina, who would die from severe trauma at Thomas Jefferson Hospital several days later, was found 150 feet from the point of impact. Barnes’ car crashed an additional 57 feet away, O’Neill testified.Barnes attorney, Emmett Madden, questioned O’Neill about a witness who reported to police that night that a taxicab had initially struck Kadiyska. O’Neill responded that police and the Philadelphia Parking Authority pinpointed every cab that was in the vicinity that night and had them brought to AID headquarters for investigation. None of the five cabs brought in showed signs of damage.“Obviously if a cab goes and kills someone, they’re not going to go through the regular channels” to get it repaired, Madden said of PPA rules which require a record of repairs.O’Neill noted that he was certain that Barnes’ Audi was responsible for Kadiyska’s death. He estimated the Audi’s speed at 50 miles per hour in a 25-mph zone while Doyle said that the suspect’s blood alcohol content registered .156.Kadiyska’s boyfriend and two close friends were in court as were several Barnes relatives and supporters.Municipal Court Judge Karen Y. Simmons ordered Barnes held for trial on homicide by vehicle, involuntary manslaughter and several other charges. His next court appearance will be held May 23.