Small-time drug debt allegedly leads to brutal assault, rape near Germantown police precinct

 The brutal crimes were committed near the 14th District police station and Germantown Town Hall. (NewsWorks, file art)

The brutal crimes were committed near the 14th District police station and Germantown Town Hall. (NewsWorks, file art)

Choking back tears, the Germantown woman recalled how her living room was covered in blood.

Brandon Schweitzer, her boyfriend of five years, lay unconscious on the floor, the aftereffects of being punched repeatedly in the face and, once he collapsed, being kicked in the head.

In their fury, Schweitzer’s attackers accused him of faking his injuries.

“That’s when the stomping began,” she said in court last week, openly weeping. “He never regained consciousness after that.”

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Soon, the attackers turned their attention to her.

The charges

On Thursday, details emerged in a Philadelphia courtroom about a brutal assault and rape that occurred in Germantown earlier this year over a small drug debt.

At a preliminary hearing held last week, Robert Conner, 37, of Germantown, faced a litany of charges in connection to an incident that allegedly took place March 22 on the unit block of W. Haines St.

According to court documents, Conner faces charges of attempted murder, aggravated assault, kidnapping, rape, sexual and indecent assault, burglary, trespassing and conspiracy in connection with the episode, which allegedly took place only steps away from the headquarters of the Philadelphia Police Department’s 14th District.

The victim, whose identity NewsWorks is withholding, testified that at about 10:30 p.m. on March 22, she was awakened by a verbal altercation.

Heartwrenching testimony

Through the French doors that separated living room from bedroom, the victim recalled seeing Schweitzer arguing with Conner and an unknown second man, whose identity was not revealed at Thursday’s hearing.

Conner was allegedly the couple’s drug dealer who was there that night to collect $30 for crack cocaine that was fronted to the couple.

As Conner continued to hit Schweitzer, the unknown man approached the female victim as she sat in the bedroom.

“He comes into the bedroom, and tells me what a loser my boyfriend is,” she said under questioning from Assistant District Attorney Jim Stinsman.

The unidentified man — he told her that the attack wasn’t personal, that he was only doing his job — then returned to the living room and resumed beating Schweitzer.

When her boyfriend began snoring, the unknown man returned to the bedroom, pulled the victim’s pants down and sexually assaulted her with his hand.

Conner then entered the bedroom, grabbed her by the neck, pushed her face-first into a dresser and, clasping her neck with his arm in a choke-hold, allegedly raped her.

“This portion lasted for two minutes,” she said. “He then threw me on the ground, threw my pants at me and told me to get dressed.”

When she told him she wasn’t leaving, Conner pushed her out the back door, throwing her down three steps to the back yard. He then led her into the adjoining house where a half-dozen of her neighbors were sitting in a bedroom smoking crack.

“Oh, there’s a girl in a robe,” she recalled one of the neighbors remarking.

One of the neighbors, a man known as “Fox,” stepped in to say that he could repay the victim’s drug debt. Conner sent him away, telling the man that he was going “to take it.”

For a moment, Conner stepped out of the room. When he returned, he raped the victim on the couch.

“This makes us even,” he told her, the victim testified.

But he still wanted $40 from Schweitzer.

Continued brutality

After the ordeal on the couch, the victim returned to her apartment, where she saw that Schweitzer was still unconscious.

“He wouldn’t wake up,” she said. “He tried to get up, but couldn’t open his eyes.”

The puddles of blood in the living room were specked with chunks of Schweitzer’s hair. Blood poured from his ears.

Schweitzer was taken to Albert Einstein Medical Center, where he remained in a coma for three weeks. According to the victim, Schweitzer is now walking, but only with assistance. He’s also talking, but doesn’t make much sense.

“He thinks its 1998,” she said. “He doesn’t have memories. The doctors said he has the mentality of an eight-year-old.”

The scene in court

At the defense table, Conner sat listening to the victim’s testimony. As she described Schweitzer’s medical prognosis, he held his head in his hands, at times covering his face with his arms.

Upon cross-examination by defense attorney Carina Laguzzi, the victim related that a rape kit was administered to her, but that it occurred at a later point in time.

Addressing Judge Lydia Kirkland, Laguzzi rebuffed her client’s attempted-murder charge, offering that he made no statements relative to intent.

Unmoved, Kirkland ordered Conner held for trial on all counts.

Asked for comment, Laguzzi repudiated the victim’s testimony, specifically citing a three-day lapse between the alleged incident and the administering of the rape kit.

“In three days, you can’t get an accurate rape kit,” Laguzzi said.

Laguzzi also noted that the proximity between the victim’s residence and the 14th District police headquarters — located across the street — raised questions.

“If you’re brutalized, and your boyfriend is attacked in such a hideous fashion, why don’t you just cross the street, or scream for help for that matter?” Laguzzi asked.

Conner, who is being held on $1 million bail, has served prior jail stints on drug charges, according to court records. His formal arraignment is on July 17.

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