MLK High student pleads guilty to witness intimidation over Twitter

After waiving a preliminary hearing, a Philadelphia teen admitted in Family Court Wednesday that he posted photos of shooting victims and secret court documents on Twitter.

On Nov. 12, police arrested Nasheen Anderson at Martin Luther King High School in West Oak Lane after investigators confirmed that the Twitter handle in question belonged to the 17-year-old.

Anderson, of East Germantown, was charged with witness intimidation and terroristic threats for calling witnesses “rats” and disclosing information that was supposed to be kept confidential to protect those 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.

Against the backdrop of the “no-snitch” culture that thrives in parts 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, opting instead to adjudicate the teen.

“That’s a 17-year-old child, does well in school, he’s never had the benefit of much interaction with the juvenile system,” said Timothy McCullough, Anderson’s lawyer, after the court proceeding. “He should remain here. He’s amenable to it,”

Following Wednesday’s hearing, Assistant District Attorney Jan McDermott, who is prosecuting the case, said she was disappointed Anderson will not see the inside of a Criminal Justice Center courtroom.

“I cannot think in my history of being a prosecutor for 24 years of a more significant type of intimidation than this one,” said McDermott.

The source of the photos and documents is still unknown. Anderson said in court that he found both on Twitter and simply reposted them. Dougherty wants more details, telling Anderson that he “will not walk” if he does not cooperate with his request.

Anderson will return to court on Dec. 16 for sentencing.

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

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.