Murder charges dropped against West Oak Lane shooting suspects

 The scene of Wednesday night's shooting in West Oak Lane. (Matthew Grady/for NewsWorks)

The scene of Wednesday night's shooting in West Oak Lane. (Matthew Grady/for NewsWorks)

Prosecutors withdrew murder charges against two men charged in connection with a fatal May 21 shooting on the 6900 block of Stenton Ave. in West Oak Lane.

Earlier this month, Qurian Sullivan, 22, and Onzie Tate, 20, were arrested in connection with the death of 19-year-old Markquine Pickett; all three are from West Philadelphia.

On Wednesday, their preliminary hearing was ultimately waived as murder charges were dismissed.

No explanation offered

Sullivan’s attorney Gary Server cited attendant case law but declined further comment when asked why the murder charges were dropped. A statement made by Tate’s attorney in court may provide insight, however.

James Berardinelli told Judge Bradley K. Moss that his client was little more than the driver for the three other individuals who were planning a robbery. Among those other individuals was Sullivan; attorneys did not confirm whether Pickett was among them as well.

Assistant District Attorney Jude Conroy also declined comment but said the cases will be transferred from the Homicide Unit to the Northwest Division of the District Attorney’s office.

Sullivan was held for trial on attempted murder, aggravated assault, robbery and related charges. Tate was held for court on robbery, conspiracy and burglary charges. Both remain in custody.

The back story

While initial reports indicated Pickett was shot once in the chest outside a Rita’s Water Ice location, police were adamant that the shooting originated at a nearby residence.

The wounded Pickett ran from the shooting location — police familiar with the investigation said he was there to rob a drug house on the block — and collapsed in front of the water-ice stand at the corner of Stenton and Haines St.

Unrelated West Oak Lane shooting

A 27-year-old man drove himself to Albert Einstein Medical Center after being shot on the 1700 block of 65th Ave. just before 11 p.m. Wednesday.

The victim, who was driving a van on the block when five shots rang out, was in stable condition, having been shot in the left wrist.

The unidentified shooter was apparently standing on the sidewalk when shots were fired through a parked car to the victim’s van.

While no motive was available, Chief Inspector Scott Small said the victim was allegedly in the neighborhood visiting his girlfriend, but was otherwise was not cooperating with police.

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