Two men convicted of the 1995 killing of North Philadelphia store owner Thomas Keal who had their convictions thrown out last year will not be retried in the murder, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office announced. Eugene Gilyard and Lance Felder were teenagers when they were first charged with the slaying.
The pair were freed with the help of the Philadelphia Innocence Project, which helped Gilyard. According to the group’s website, Keal’s daughter witnessed the killing and identified Gilyard and Felder two years later. The Innocence Project says Ricky Welborn, currently serving life on an unrelated murder, confessed to the crime — and that other witnesses corroborate his story.
The DA’s office thinks otherwise.
“The passage of so many years and inconsistencies between witnesses from the initial investigation and witnesses that came to light more recently has compromised the evidence to the point that we cannot proceed,” the DA’s office said in a statement. It further alleged there is “an abundance of evidence” proving Welborn was paid $10,000 to say he killed Keal. The Innocence Project disputes these claims.
Common Pleas Judge Rose Marie DeFino-Nastasi freed Gilyard and Felder to house arrest last year after a review of the original case.