As loved ones mourn a Temple University grad who was gunned down while walking his dog, many are questioning why the murder suspect’s bail amounts for previous offenses were reduced, allowing him to be released from jail two weeks before the shooting.
Josephus Davis, 20, was arrested and charged with the murder of Milan Loncar.
On Wednesday, Loncar, 25, was walking his dog near 31st and Jefferson streets in Philadelphia's Brewerytown neighborhood when two people approached him. Surveillance video released by police showed the suspects reaching into Loncar's pockets. Loncar was then shot and killed.
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Later that night, Davis was arrested in connection to an unrelated carjacking. He was later identified by police as the man who killed Loncar. A second person of interest was also identified in connection to Loncar’s death.
Davis had an extensive criminal record prior to the shooting.
He was jailed for a robbery in 2019, according to court records. In January 2020, he took a plea deal that came with two years of supervised release. While Davis was in jail, he was charged with two other crimes, an old carjacking and kidnapping from 2019 and an assault on a prison guard while serving his sentence.
For the kidnapping case, Davis was held on $100,000 bail. Court records show that on more than a half dozen occasions, Davis was scheduled for a preliminary hearing but they were all continued. Some were postponed due to the pandemic while another was delayed because Davis hadn’t been taken from jail. Another was continued because the District Attorney’s Office didn’t have a witness needed for the case.
When Davis' defense attorney asked for the bail reduction in October, the District Attorney in court told the judge they believed bodily fluids were thrown at the guard but offered no proof of what the substance was. The judge was on the record saying the bail would be lowered to $12,000 over the commonwealth's objection.
NBC10 obtained a report in which the prison guard claimed Davis threatened to "smoke him" if he was released from jail. That was not put in front of the judge however.
When Davis appeared in court again in December and asked for another bail reduction, a prosecutor objected to it, citing the current prison assault charge, a juvenile case, a 2019 robbery charge and a 2019 failure to appear case. The judge still allowed the bail reduction however.
Davis was able to post bail and was released on Dec. 29, two weeks before Loncar’s murder.
“It would seem to me that if he’s allegedly committing crimes on the streets and in the prisons, he would be the poster boy for an appeal of reduced bail,” local defense attorney William Brennan said. “So I don’t know if a detainer was filed. Apparently, dockets say it wasn’t.”
Brennan is not affiliated with Davis’ case but told NBC10 he had detainers filed on his clients for offenses that were far less severe.
The bail reduction was questioned by some in the Philadelphia Police Department.
"This male was on the street with two open felony cases because his bail was reduced from 200K to 12K," Philadelphia Police Inspector Derrick Wood tweeted. "This is ridiculous and another example of bail decisions that are being made without considering the safety of the community. Consequences matter."
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said his office had argued last year for Davis to be held on higher bail, but that the judiciary sets bail, not the District Attorney's Office.
"The Philadelphia DAO argued in two separate cases last year that Davis Josephus be held in jail, yet bail was lowered by judges over our objections," Krasner said in a written statement.
“This violent act robbed a young man of his life and future, and inflicted additional violence on the family and community that grieves him," Krasner said.
Davis is currently being held without bail on the murder charge.
"I'm sure that many balls were dropped in this case and that will be looked at and unfortunately we do see this in a lot of cases," Joanne Pescatore, of the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office, said Tuesday.
Pescatore said it was unclear whether or not the District Attorney's Office filed an appeal to the bail reduction. She said it will be one of the things the office takes a look at when they review the case.
This post was updated after law enforcement corrected Davis' name.