Barely two months before Samir Price allegedly murdered 14-year-old Ian Wilsey on a Lower Mayfair street, Price stood at the front of a Philadelphia courtroom as a defendant in a felony robbery and aggravated assault case.
But the proceeding never made it to trial, court records show, and Price, 19, walked away a free man on Sept. 19.
Authorities say that Price shot Wilsey to death on Nov. 28 in what they suspect was another robbery attempt. The crime happened at about 9 p.m. on the 6200 block of Brous Ave., where the victim was walking with a friend. Price and an accomplice fled the scene, but Price surrendered to police eight days later amid growing public interest in the case.
Price, a resident of the 6100 block of Loretto Ave. in Oxford Circle, has one prior arrest on his criminal record in Philadelphia, court records show. Police locked him up on Oct. 28, 2015, for robbery, aggravated assault, theft, possessing an instrument of crime, reckless endangerment, making terroristic threats and other offenses. Details of the incident are not recorded on the criminal docket summary.
Price was ordered to stand trial on all counts following a Dec. 10, 2015, preliminary hearing. During the ensuing nine months, there were six scheduled court dates, including three dates that the actual trial was set to begin. At one point, a pre-trial conference was postponed at the request of the defense. Another time, Price rejected a plea bargain offer.
By last March, the court had scheduled a trial date of Aug. 1. But before then, it had to consider a motion by Price’s attorney to quash the case and later Price’s own request for a new defense attorney.
Initially, the defense indicated it would exercise its right to a jury trial. But in early July, Price had waived his right to a jury and instead agreed to leave the verdict in the hands of Common Pleas Court Judge Daniel McCaffery. The case got a new trial date of Aug. 25. But on that date, the prosecution requested another postponement. The judge granted the delay, but only on condition that there would be no more postponements granted beyond Sept. 19.
On that final date, the district attorney’s office filed a nolle prosequi. That’s a Latin legal term signifying that the prosecutor was unwilling to pursue the case further. The status does not absolve the defendant of possible future prosecution. Typically, a prosecutor may drop charges if a victim or key witness is unavailable to testify or chooses not to cooperate with authorities.
In any case, Price was a free man when he allegedly shot Wilsey to death on Nov. 28. Wilsey, a Northeast High School student and resident of the 1700 block of Cottman Ave., was walking on Brous Avenue with a friend that night. Initially, the friend told homicide investigators that he and Wilsey were on the way to a store. Later, the friend reportedly confided that Wilsey had arranged to meet another acquaintance there to sell him marijuana. Police did not disclose the name of the witness, who was not injured and has not been accused of wrongdoing.
Price and another unidentified man allegedly pulled up to Wilsey and his friend in a car. Police claim that Price pulled a gun and shot Wilsey three times in the chest and torso. As the assailants fled, neighbors summoned police, who rushed Wilsey to a local hospital. Wilsey was pronounced dead at about 9:30 p.m.
Price surrendered at Police Headquarters, Eighth and Race streets, on Dec. 6. He is jailed without bail at Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility pending a Dec. 21 preliminary hearing. Police have released no information about any other suspects in the case. ••