Charges Dropped in Philly Attempted Murder Case

The DA's office says it uncovered new evidence that cast doubt on the accusations made against Tomayo McDuffy. It had previously defended the charges.

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s office has dropped charges against Tomayo McDuffy, a Holmesburg man once accused of attempted murder in a home invasion case in Northeast Philadelphia. He was accused by a blind neighbor who said she recognized his voice.

The original incident happened in May of 2013. Yolanda Colon, a blind woman, said two men broke into her house; her service dog was able to scare off the intruders and fetch her phone to call 911. (Good boy!) The victim said she recognized a voice belonging to McDuffy, her next-door neighbor.

Colon said the intruders left her gas on. McDuffy was arrested and charged with attempted murder. But questions abounded: Supporters claimed Colon left the gas on herself and pegged McDuffy as the culprit because of a longstanding grudge; McDuffy’s backers said Colon had a history of wrongfully accusing people.

“Crime victim? She’s a crybaby, that’s what she is,” a former boyfriend, Richard Vargas, told the Daily News. “I love her to death, but I would not speak up for her lies.” Supporters protested outside the DA’s office last year.

Both the district attorney’s office and police defended the charges to the Daily News last year. McDuffy was eventually freed on bail and scheduled for trial this year. The DA’s office said new evidence discovered this year raised “substantial concerns about the victim’s prior history and visual acuity.” A new voice lineup this month led to a misidentification. The DA’s office then dropped the charges.

“I have concluded that this case cannot proceed,” District Attorney Seth Williams said in a statement. “As always in such circumstances, we must be fair both to the complainant and the defendant. Sometimes that takes time; the overburdened criminal justice system seldom moves as fast as it should. The last several years have seen major reforms that have significantly augmented and expedited the charging and investigative process for most cases. But there is always more to do, and we must and will do our part to seek justice in every case.”