Hoey Hammers Witness During Kaboni Savage Trial



A defense lawyer at the murder and conspiracy trial of drug kingpin Kaboni Savage hammered away Thursday at a key prosecution witness, trying to get the man to concede that others might have been behind the October 2004 firebombing that killed his mother, son, and four relatives. The witness, Eugene “Twin” Coleman, told a federal jury in Philadelphia this week that his relatives were killed less than a day after he overheard Savage, his onetime friend, describe him and his family as rats, and vow to “kill all the [expletive] rats.”

As he completed a third day of occasionally contentious cross-examination Thursday, lawyer Christian Hoey did not ask Coleman about those specific remarks. But he pointed to FBI reports before the attack in which Coleman said others in the Federal Detention Center had threatened him and his family. Hoey said Coleman told agents in August 2004 he was worried that Muslim inmates who knew he had become a government witness planned “a sit-down” about him. Hoey also cited an FBI report before the bombing in which Coleman said Dawud Bey, another imprisoned drug dealer with whom he had had past disputes, “told him they were going to kill his family.” Coleman retorted that Bey was merely conveying the threat from Savage. He said Savage was housed on another floor in the prison but passed instructions through the prison plumbing. “Bey was talking to Kaboni through the [toilet] bowl,” Coleman testified. Savage and three others, including his sister Kidada, face federal conspiracy and murder charges in connection with 12 deaths, including the North Philadelphia firebombing that killed Coleman’s family.

Authorities have called that attack on North Sixth Street the most horrific example of witness retaliation in recent city history. Robert “B.J.” Merritt, one of the men accused of carrying out the bombing, is on trial with Savage and, like him, could face the death penalty if convicted. The other alleged bomber, Lamont Lewis, is expected to testify for the government next month. Savage has been jailed since 2003 and is serving a 30-year term for drug trafficking. His court-appointed lawyers contend he did not have the power or means to engineer the firebombing. They say the government case is built on the word of lying drug dealers and others trying to save themselves. Coleman, a close friend and high-ranking member in Savage’s drug network, spent 41 months in prison, and was relocated and given a new identity under the federal witness security program. He was kicked out in November 2010, he said, for improperly revealing to someone that he was in the program.

Hoey and Coleman sparred for nearly three days, with the lawyer repeatedly challenging Coleman’s credibility and trying to portray him less as a victim of murderous retribution than as a heartless drug dealer who repeatedly lied to authorities and jurors – and may still be doing so. Later Thursday morning, one of Merritt’s lawyers, Paul George, pointed out that Coleman sat through hundreds of hours of interviews and trial and grand jury testimony over a decade before he ever mentioned Merritt to authorities as a member of the drug ring. “I just answered the questions they asked me,” Coleman said, echoing a response he has given dozens of times this week. The trial, before U.S. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick, began in early February and is expected to last through April.

Distracted Driving

Pennsylvania defines distracted driving as “an activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.” Drivers have to focus on driving, so they can react to the information on the road, such as road conditions, hazards and other drivers. Distracted drivers do not react appropriately and thus put others at risk for severe injury or death. Examples of distractions, besides using cell phones and texting, include drinking, eating, adjusting the radio, adjusting climate controls, adjusting seats, combing hair, putting on make-up, daydreaming, reaching for dropped items, engaging in heavy conversations, and focusing on events outside of the car.

Driving Under the Influence

Driving under the influence typically refers to alcohol use, but drug use can also impair drivers and cause severe car accidents.  In either situation, enjoying cocktails at happy hour, celebrating with drugs or alcohol, drinking too much wine for dinner and unwinding after a long week at work results in too many motorists driving under the influence.  Controlled substances impact each person differently, making it common for someone to misjudge his or her level of impairment.  These poor judgments can lead to severe and sometimes fatal car accidents.

Driver Fatigue

Driving without enough sleep is commonplace for many in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and across the nation. Truck drivers, shift workers, and those with sleep disorders are most vulnerable to causing an accident because they are drowsy or fatigued. Not having enough rest slows down reaction time and impairs the senses. In fact, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) claims that eighteen (18) hours without sleep impairs a driver to the same extent as someone who has a 0.08 blood or breath alcohol concentration after consuming alcohol.


The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that one-third of all car accidents involve speeding. Drivers who rush, run late, or simply lack patience may choose to speed when they get behind the wheel. Speeding makes it more likely that a driver will lose control of his or her vehicle and makes it more difficult to react to road hazards and other vehicles. Speeding also increases the impact of a car accident and makes it far less likely that a negligent driver may maintain control of his vehicle sufficient to prevent a collision. High speed car accidents make it far more likely that those involved will suffer severe injuries or death.


At HoeyLegal, we know from our litigation experience that tractor-trailer drivers often operate at least one cellular phone which is in use at, during, or immediately prior to a tractor-trailer accident. Additionally, most tractor-trailers are equipped with data recorders which capture, in real-time, important vehicle operation events including speed, hard braking and other evasive maneuvers taken by the operator and the tractor-trailer.  It is imperative that this evidence be obtained before it is destroyed.  At HoeyLegal, our trial attorneys will obtain any necessary court order to preserve this evidence for trial.


Oftentimes, there are several defendants responsible for the tractor-trailer accident. In most cases, at least two defendants are responsible for the ownership and operation of the tractor-trailer.  There may be additional defendants responsible for the hiring and retention of the tractor-trailer driver.  At HoeyLegal, our investigators will promptly identify the responsible defendants and immediately request the preservation of all evidence related to the hiring and retention of the driver, inspection of the vehicles and the supervision and drug/alcohol testing of the vehicle operator.


Our accident investigators include mechanics who will immediately respond to the accident site and the location where the truck has been impounded in order to photograph the truck and conduct necessary mechanical inspections of the vehicle. In the event that a court order is necessary to examine and inspect the trucks, HoeyLegal Attorneys will promptly file the necessary motions to enable the HoeyLegal mechanics and inspectors to conduct a prompt evaluation of the mechanical function of the at-fault tractor-trailer


Our expert accident investigators include former Pennsylvania State Police accident investigators and nationally recognized engineers who will carefully photograph the accident scene and conduct all necessary measurements of skid marks, yaw marks, displacement of debris and thoroughly examine the accident site to preserve all evidence for the time of trial.


Our investigators will promptly interview and record all witnesses that observed the accident and collect all biographical information from the witnesses so they will available to testify on your behalf at trial.

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