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A new trial begins for the pair accused of the Schuylkill River Trail murder

The Montco Courthouse

NORRISTOWN – Two men, one from Norristown and the other from Philadelphia, had an “agreement” to lead a former Reading man to a remote area of ​​the Schuylkill River Trail in West Norriton, where he was fatally shot and robbed , a prosecutor argued to a jury.

“Three men walk into the woods. Two men walk out and the third is left there dead. This was a deal to kill Daquan Tucker,” Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Caitlin Faith O’Malley argued before a jury during her opening statement as the retrial of accused killers Cody Kavon Reed and Marquise Alexander Johnson got underway Monday in connection with the murder. alleged 8:45 p.m. March 2, 2023, murder of Daquan Kennard Tucker.

O’Malley argued that the evidence will show that Reed and Johnson were the last people seen with Tucker and that they had Tucker’s cell phone in their possession later that evening, citing video surveillance footage from cameras in the area and cell phone data that had recorded the movements of the accused killers.

“There is no such thing as coincidence,” O’Malley argued to the jury of six men and six women. “This is a case of circumstantial evidence. We don’t have a murder weapon. There is no smoking gun.”

Although no one knows who fired the fatal shots, Reed and Johnson are charged with murder under the complicity theories, prosecutors explained. Prosecutors argued that jurors can rely only on circumstantial evidence to convict the men.

“Everything they did until they were found a month later, they did together,” argued O’Malley, who is handling the case with co-prosecutor Kathleen Alane McLaughlin.

Cody Kavon Reed, 24, of Norristown, is escorted by sheriff's deputies from a Montgomery County courtroom during a break in his murder trial on June 3, 2024. (Photo by Carl Hessler Jr. - MediaNews Group)
Cody Kavon Reed, 24, of Norristown, is escorted by sheriff’s deputies from a Montgomery County courtroom during a break in his murder trial on June 3, 2024. (Photo by Carl Hessler Jr. – MediaNews Group)

Reed and Johnson, prosecutors alleged, fled the area after the killing and remained on the run until April 6, 2023, when they were apprehended by the U.S. Marshals Service in Atlantic City.

Reed, 24, of the 300 block of West Marshall Street, Norristown, and Johnson, 24, of the 500 block of East Johnson Street, Philadelphia, are each charged with first-, second- and third-degree murder, robbery, weapons violations and fleeing to to avoid arrest in connection with the robbery and murder of Tucker, 25, a former Reading resident who lived along Rogers Road in Lower Providence at the time of his death.

Reed and Johnson remain in the county jail without bail pending the retrial.

The new trial was ordered after another jury in February, after hearing four days of testimony and deliberating eight hours over two days, told presiding judge William R. Carpenter that it was deadlocked. Carpenter declared a mistrial and prosecutors promised to retry Reed and Johnson.

“Hopefully this time they come up with the true answer, which is not guilty,” Johnson said as he was escorted out of the courtroom by sheriff’s deputies during a break in the trial.

When asked if he plans to testify at trial, Johnson added: “There’s nothing to say.”

Marquise Johnson, 24, of Philadelphia, is escorted by a deputy sheriff from a Montgomery County courtroom on June 3, 2024, during a break in his murder trial.  (Photo by Carl Hessler Jr. - MediaNews Group)
Marquise Johnson, 24, of Philadelphia, is escorted by a deputy sheriff from a Montgomery County courtroom on June 3, 2024, during a break in his murder trial. (Photo by Carl Hessler Jr. – MediaNews Group)

Reed declined to comment to a reporter as he was escorted to and from the courtroom by deputies.

Attorney Brendan Michael Campbell, who represents Reed, argued Monday that although all three men hung out together at some point on March 2, there is no DNA, fingerprint or weapon evidence linking Reed to Tucker’s death.

“There’s a significant gap in the evidence that you’re going to see. Much evidence is missing. The Commonwealth will give you a version of the events they believe occurred. Nobody knows what happened. They don’t know what happened,” Campbell argued during his opening statement to the jury. “You must critique and examine the evidence presented to you.”

Attorney John Francis McCaul, who represents Johnson, argued that there is no physical forensic evidence linking Johnson or Reed to the crime, and he suggested that prosecutors have no evidence that there was any similarity between Johnson and Reed. McCaul joined Campbell in arguing that no one knows what happened to Tucker between 9 p.m. March 2 and 9 a.m. March 3, when his body was discovered along the trail.

“The prosecution will not present any evidence of ill will, bad blood, a beef or a motive to kill,” McCaul argued during his opening statement. “The reality is that this case contains little facts and hard evidence, but a lot of speculation and conjecture.”

The process is expected to take several days.

Cody Kavon Reed, 24, of Norristown, is escorted by sheriff's deputies into a Montgomery County courtroom for his murder trial on June 3, 2024. (Photo by Carl Hessler Jr. - MediaNews Group)
Cody Kavon Reed, 24, of Norristown, is escorted by deputies into a Montgomery County courtroom for his murder trial on June 3, 2024. (Photo by Carl Hessler Jr. – MediaNews Group)

A conviction for first-degree murder, intentional murder, or second-degree murder, a killing that occurs during the course of another crime, such as robbery, carries a mandatory life sentence. A conviction for third-degree murder, a killing committed with malice, carries a possible maximum penalty of 20 to 40 years in prison.

The investigation began at approximately 9:03 a.m. on March 3, 2023, when a citizen riding his bicycle along the Schuylkill River Trail on the border of Norristown and West Norriton called 911 to report seeing a body in a wooded area between the trail and the Schuylkill River. , according to the criminal complaint filed by county Detective John Wittenberger and West Norriton Detective Mark Wassmer.

Arriving officers found Tucker “lying in the wooded area along a steep embankment approximately 100 feet from the trail,” with apparent gunshot wounds. Detectives found two .40-caliber fired shell casings near Tucker, according to court documents.

Detectives previously said the casings were fired from the same unknown firearm.

A deputy sheriff escorts Marquise Alexander Johnson to his murder trial in Montgomery County Court on June 3, 2024. (Photo by Carl Hessler Jr. - MediaNews Group)
A deputy sheriff escorts Marquise Alexander Johnson to his murder trial in Montgomery County Court on June 3, 2024. (Photo by Carl Hessler Jr. – MediaNews Group)

Detectives said investigators found no identification, no cell phone and no wallet on Tucker. Detectives used a fingerprint scanner to identify Tucker.

A forensic pathologist determined that Tucker died of multiple gunshot wounds and the manner of death was ruled a homicide.

Testimony revealed that a girlfriend of Tucker’s called a brother of Tucker’s in the early morning hours of March 3 out of concern that Tucker had never arrived at the home they shared as planned on March 2 at 11 p.m. and that he was missing. The woman, who was in a relationship with Tucker, then told detectives that she believed a man named “Cody” had previously sent an Uber to their residence to get Tucker and Tucker left in the Uber and had not been seen since, according to previous testimonials.

Witnesses said that when they checked Tucker’s location through the “Find My iPhone” feature, it indicated his location was on the Schuylkill River Trail near Norristown between 8:57 PM and 9:00 PM on March 2, in the exact location where his body was eventually found. A check of Tucker’s cell phone location at 10:06 p.m. on March 2 indicated it was in the area of ​​the 1000 block of West Airy Street, authorities said.

Detectives have obtained video surveillance footage that shows Tucker arrived at Reed’s home just after 7 p.m. on March 2. Surveillance footage at 8:39 p.m. showed Reed, Tucker and Johnson, who all knew each other, walking toward the Schuylkill River Trail, according to court papers.

“The three then walked to a remote area of ​​the Schuylkill River Trail in West Norriton Township, where Tucker was shot and killed numerous times and his property was taken from him,” Wittenberger and Wassmer alleged in the arrest affidavit.

Video surveillance captured Reed and Johnson walking down West Airy Street at 10:06 p.m., the same place and time witnesses previously told investigators the “Find My iPhone” feature found Tucker’s phone. Investigators alleged that Reed and Johnson were in possession of Tucker’s cell phone after he was shot and killed.

At 10:21 p.m., video surveillance showed Reed and Johnson returning to Reed’s apartment on West Marshall Street, according to the arrest affidavit.