Plea deal in Old City beating case

A co-defendant of Fox Chase resident Steven Ferguson pleaded guilty on Friday to involuntary manslaughter for the beating death of 2010 Temple graduate Kevin Kless on an Old City street corner last January.

Meanwhile, the 21-year-old Ferguson remains free on bail while awaiting trial for third-degree murder in the case. A trial date has not been set.

In exchange for Felix Carrillo’s plea, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office withdrew a murder charge, multiple counts of assault and other charges that the 24-year-old from Olney would have faced had he gone to trial. Common Pleas Court Judge Benjamin Lerner sentenced Carrillo to serve 2 to 5 years in state prison.

Ferguson, Carrillo and a third man, Kenneth Enriquiz-Santiago, 20, of Juniata Park, allegedly attacked the 23-year-old Kless, Kless’ girlfriend and a mutual friend at Fourth and Chestnut streets last Jan. 14 following a brief exchange of heated words.

Both groups had been drinking at area bars that night. According to eyewitness testimony, Kless tried to hail a cab, but the cabbie refused to pick up Kless and his two companions. That prompted Kless to shout at the cab driver.

The defendants were in a car immediately behind the cab and, according to court testimony, may have thought Kless was yelling at them. The trio emerged from their car and beat Kless with their fists. Ferguson allegedly delivered the fatal blow when he punched the victim in the head and knocked him to the sidewalk.

Litigants argued during a preliminary hearing whether the final punch killed Kless or if the fatal blow occurred when Kless’ head struck the pavement.

During the preliminary hearing, a homicide detective testified that Ferguson admitted to his role in the attack, but claimed that a verbal confrontation preceded the violence, with Kless reacting to lewd comments made by Ferguson’s group toward Kless’ women companions.

Ferguson was arrested Jan. 20 and remained in jail until July, when Lerner reduced his bail to $150,000 and the defendant posted 10 percent of it to gain his release.

At the time of the beating, Ferguson was living with family on the 1100 block of Solly Ave. ••