Philly DA vows to prosecute criminals regardless of the immigration status of the victim

After the conviction of a carjacker who targeted a victim from Brazil, DA Larry Krasner says his office will prosecute crimes no matter the victim's status.

Larry Krasner at a podium

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner on July 8, 2024. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

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Philadelphia’s District Attorney used the conviction of a man accused of attacking a Brazilian woman to showcase how his office would fight for justice no matter the immigration status of the victim.

In a news conference Monday morning, DA Larry Krasner said some criminals intentionally target migrants without proper documents and other disadvantaged groups in Philadelphia because they believe those people will be less likely to report the crimes to authorities.

“Based upon the idea that they are so endangered by ICE policy or their status that they won’t come forward, we’ve certainly seen that for a long time,” Krasner said.

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His comments come after Deandrade Jeferson was convicted for his role in a 2022 carjacking attempt where three men were accused of trying to carjack a woman coming home to Northeast Philadelphia from a Valentine’s Day event at her church.

ADA Kenzie Johnson said in this case, the victim was a Brazilian American woman who was targeted by a suspect who was also from Brazil.

“We do have reason to believe that there are other victims of this defendant, Deandrade Jeferson, that are still out there,” Johnson said. “I hope that they will consider coming forward and give us the opportunity to fight for them.”

Prosecutors used testimony from the survivor as well as forensic evidence, including a sizable handprint left on the driver’s side window, to secure the guilty verdict.

Krasner said the immigration status of a victim does not factor into their investigation, and they will work to help victims gain proper status so they don’t have to live in fear.

‘Well under half’

DA Larry Krasner also updated crime numbers for the city, which continue to fall. Violent crime in Philadelphia is down considerably, especially compared to the pandemic years.

During the pandemic, the city was averaging roughly 10.5 homicides per week, Krasner said. Today, that average is about four per week.

“You’ve been hearing news like that for quite some time over the last two and a half years about those numbers coming down,” he said.

As of Sunday night, Philadelphia had recorded 133 homicides so far this year. That’s well below the 221 homicides this time last year and the 280 by this point in 2022.

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“We’re well under half,” he said. “Philadelphia is leading the major cities in the United States” in reducing violent crime.

Last week, the DA’s office distributed more violence prevention funding to help with grassroots crime-fighting efforts, with additional funding in the new city budget.

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