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December 07, 2018

Larry Krasner’s office looking to reverse plea deal for man who shot West Philly deli owner

The decision is a reversal of course from the District Attorney's office

Courts District Attorney
Stock_Carroll - Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner was the focus of a letter from 24 local academics questioning media coverage of criminal justice reform efforts.

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner’s office filed a motion in the Court of Common Pleas on Friday seeking vacate a plea deal the office approved last month.

The deal in question, with 29-year-old Jovaun Patterson, currently includes dropping the attempted murder charge against Patterson and sentencing him to 3 1/2 to 10 years in prison in exchange for his guilty plea.

Patterson allegedly shot West Philly deli owner Mike Poeng, 50, in the hip with an AK-47 during an attempted robbery in May.

The deal was criticized after an Inquirer story brought the deal to light, and Poeng himself told the Inquirer he was stunned by the decision  in large part, because he wasn't contacted before it was made.

"He changed my life forever," Poeng told the Inquirer last month. "I can't do anything. I can't take care of myself anymore. I have three kids. Who is going to support them? He's going to be in jail three to 10 years — that's it? I'll be handicapped the rest of my life. I can't do anything."

According to Billy Penn, the prosecutor assigned to Patterson’s case, Assistant District Attorney Lori Edelman, failed to contact Poeng despite Pennsylvania law guaranteeing victims the opportunity to offer comment on the sentencing of a defendant.

Krasner’s office is now asking a judge to vacate the deal, Billy Penn reported, and hoping to seek a new deal. 

At the time of the Inquirer story, Krasner spokesperson Ben Waxman told the Inquirer that dropping the attempted murder charge was “wholly appropriate” because video evidence depicted a struggle involving the gun before it was discharged. In a statement to Billy Penn on Friday, Waxman said the deal “was not reflective of our policy and how things should be done.”

Krasner’s brief time as district attorney has been marked by a push for criminal justice reform, including his elimination of cash bail and desire to free wrongfully accused prisoners.

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