Families and Supporters of Philly Murder Victims Rally for Justice - NBC 10 Philadelphia

Families and Supporters of Philly Murder Victims Rally for Justice

Supporters of Ryan Kelly, Sgt. Robert Wilson III, and Gerry Grandzol gathered at St. George’s Parish on 2700 East Venango Street.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Loved Ones of Murder Victims Call for Justice

    Family and friends of three victims shot and killed in Philadelphia marched Saturday night to call for justice and send a message to District Attorney Larry Krasner.

    (Published Saturday, March 31, 2018)

    More than 100 people gathered Saturday night to demand justice for three Philadelphia murder victims.

    Loved ones and supporters of Ryan Kelly, Sgt. Robert Wilson III, and Gerry Grandzol met at St. George’s Parish on 2700 East Venango Street at 7 p.m. They marched from the church to the site of Kelly’s murder.

    "The most important thing is for our voices to be heard and for the victims' families to be able to be apart of the process," said Amy Campbell, the sister of 21-year-old Ryan Kelly.

    On November 26, 2015 around 5 a.m., Kelly, 21, was walking near his Port Richmond home on the 3500 block of Almond Street when he was shot and killed in a botched robbery.

    “He was just starting life,” said Kelly’s brother, Bill Kelly III. “It doesn’t make sense.”

    David Ramos, Jr. and Keanan Glenn were later arrested and charged in Kelly’s death. More than two years after his murder, Kelly’s family spoke out against newly-elected District Attorney Larry Krasner and accused him of trying to make a plea agreement behind their back.

    “It’s insulting to us and Ryan,” said Kelly's father, Bill Kelly Jr. “That’s ridiculous.”

    The family said the proposed deal, which was ultimately rejected by a judge, would’ve given the alleged shooter less than the life sentence the family is looking for.

    “It’s not fair,” said Kelly’s mother Cathy Kelly. “I miss my son so much and I just want justice for him.”

    The District Attorney’s office responded to Kelly’s family’s concerns with a statement that said in part, “We are aware of the concerns expressed by the family and we understand their frustration. However, due to the fact that this is a pending case, we are unable to comment further at this time.”

    During Saturday's event, Kelly's family told NBC10 the District Attorney's office explained the plea deal to them and they now understand what happened.

    "It might be too late for our case but we're hoping that it helps their case," Bill Kelly III said. "Just bring awareness to everything."

    Supporters of Philadelphia police Sgt. Robert Wilson III also attended Saturday’s rally. Wilson, 30, was gunned down while trying to thwart a robbery attempt inside a North Philadelphia GameStop store in 2015. Two brothers, Carlton Hipps and Ramone Williams, were arrested and charged in his murder.

    A defense team for the two suspects told a judge they needed additional time to prepare for the trial and a new pretrial hearing was set for June with a two-week jury trial expected to start in November. Wilson’s family however accused Krasner's office of slowing down the case. They also questioned his previous relationship with Michael Coard, one of the suspects' defense attorneys who was on Krasner’s transition team.

    "Our family is very angry," Wilson's sister, Shakira Wilson-Burroughs, told NBC10. "There's more cooperation between Krasner and the defense attorneys. My brother's case - there is no possible way it can be tried fairly."

    Krasner's office issued a statement in response, saying that while Coard was a volunteer for the district attorney's transition team, the two have not spoken "about this case or any other case" since he took office.

    Wilson’s family also expressed concerns over the fact that Krasner campaigned on a platform that was against the death penalty, the punishment they expect for the suspects.

    "It remains a death penalty case at this time," Krasner spokesman Ben Waxman said in a statement. "The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office is committed to fighting for justice in the horrific murder of Sgt. Wilson."

    Wilson's family has asked Krasner to turn the case over to the state's attorney general. The district attorney's office says they are reviewing the case through the Homicide Sentencing Committee.

    "Krasner, who already met with some members of Sgt. Wilson's family, understands their trauma and continues to extend his support and condolences during this difficult time," Waxman said in a statement.

    Christine Grandzol Sheaffer, the sister of slain community activist Gerard Grandzol, also attended Saturday’s rally.

    "We're hoping that there's some power in numbers here and that together we have a much louder voice than we do as individual families," she said.

    Grandzol, 38, was shot and killed while protecting his 2-year-old daughter along the 1500 block of Melon Street back on Sept. 7, 2017. Marvin Roberts, 17, and his older brother Maurice Roberts, 21, were both arrested in the shooting and charged with murder. Marvin, who was 16 at the time of his arrest, was also charged as an adult. Grandzol's family now fears he could be tried as a juvenile.

    "And for us that would be the opposite of justice. That would mean he's back out on the streets when he's 21," Sheaffer said.

    In a letter posted on Philly.com, friends of Grandzol urged Krasner to “do everything in his power” to stop the case from moving to juvenile court.

    Grandzol’s widow Kristin Grandzol also wrote a post on Facebook calling for supporters to reach out to Krasner in order to prevent the case from moving to juvenile court.

    "He is new to Gerry's case and not immersed in the horror of Gerry's murder," she wrote. "It is critically important that DA Krasner hears from all of us."