"Disclaimer - The following article is a dramatization of an actual case file from the Law Offices of Scarpello & LaTour. The names of all parties have been changed to protect the innocent.
In the criminal justice system, people charged with a crime are entitled to a defense. In Philadelphia, the dedicated attorneys who defend the accused are members of an elite law firm known as Scarpello & LaTour. These are their stories.
On a cold night in January sometime before midnight, Tommy Jones ventured to Rob Smith’s West Philly rowhouse. Tensions were high. Jones showed up at Smith’s house unannounced. He was there to protect the honor of his girlfriend, Venita. She was upset at Rob because he had insulted her earlier that day. Rob called her a bitch, and much worse things too, in front of her mom and her best friend.
Venita wanted to give Rob a piece of her mind. She asked Tommy to tag along to “keep the peace”. Tommy was 6 foot 2 inches, 285 pounds. His large frame was intimidating, and it would keep Rob Smith from trying anything stupid. At least that’s what Venita hoped would happen.
Venita pounded on the door. Rob answered wearing only his pajamas.
“What the hell are you doing on my porch?!” an angry Rob said. “It’s damn near midnight!”
“You owe me an apology!” Venita answered. “You can’t disrespect me that way!”
Out of the corner of his eye Rob noticed Tommy’s large frame standing at the bottom of his steps. Tommy’s presence made him more enraged.
“Who the hell is this?! You better get him off my porch!”
“I’m here for Venita,” Tommy said. “We don’t want any trouble.”
But Tommy’s words only made Rob angrier. Rob threatened to take matters into his own hands if they refused to leave. More threats and screaming followed.
“Get off my property or I’ll throw you off!” shouted Rob.
“I’d like to see you try!” responded Venita.
Suddenly threats became a reality when the shouting match turned into a physical confrontation. Rob went into his house and closed the door. A few seconds later Rob burst through the front door and went right toward Tommy.
The two men brutally began beating each other down. Fists flew, sweat trickled, and their bodies were tossed around as each tried to gain the upper hand on the other.
After several minutes of fighting, the physical altercation took a dangerous turn when a knife was drawn.
The men wrestled to gain control of the knife, fighting out of fear for their lives.
Once the fight turned bloody, a bystander frantically called the police, hoping they would make it in time before things took an even darker turn. By the time the police had arrived, both men were drenched in blood, suffering multiple stab wounds.
Both Jones and Smith were taken to the hospital for emergency care. After receiving treatment for his injuries, police informed Tommy that HE was the person who would be charged with a crime. Police loaded Jones into a cruiser. Jones sat in the police car with the handcuffs digging into his wrists. He was scared about what was next to come.
He knew he needed to hire an attorney and fast.
He had seen countless TV shows about cases just like the one he was in the middle of.. Criminal charges could potentially ruin his reputation and future. That was not an option.
Once he was charged, Jones made the wise decision to hire Criminal Defense Attorney Joshua Scarpello of the Law Offices of Scarpello and LaTour.
The case would be difficult at trial. Both men suffered serious stab wounds. Both said the other man had pulled a knife. Police found only one knife on the grass outside of Smith’s house. Luckily, Scarpello is a highly trained and experienced attorney in criminal cases. He was eager to get to work proving that Jones was innocent.
Scarpello has an immense amount of experience in the legal field. He worked as Assistant District Attorney from 1998 until 2003. During that time, he handled thousands of cases helping to improve the lives of many. This experience as assistant district attorney greatly benefitted Scarpello when he opened his own legal practice. He was able to combine forces with Pierre LaTour making over 40 years’ experience a force to be reckoned with in Philadelphia courtrooms.
Jones was in great hands when it came time to stand trial.
As the case against Jones began, Smith was called to the stand first for questioning. He nervously fidgeted with his suit buttons as he answered the prosecutor’s questions.
“We had been physically fighting when all of a sudden that guy pulled a knife on me,” explained Smith. “I had to fight to get the knife and protect myself!”
Scarpello listened carefully to the plaintiff’s recall of events. But he was ready to dish out the hard-hitting questions to get to the bottom of all this. There were many gaps in the plaintiff’s story.
With a smooth sense of confidence and ease around the courtroom, Scarpello began. He hit the plaintiff hard with direct questioning. Throughout cross-examination, Scarpello caught Smith in lie after lie.
Smith was beginning to appear tongue-tied and flustered by the questions. He struggled to keep his facts straight.
“So, Tommy Jones arrived at your home to have a face to face talk with you. The conversation went sour. You were fired up, and very angry, so you pushed Mr. Jones. Is this correct?” Scarpello asked Smith.
“Well, yeah he had the audacity to come to my home uninvited and approach me about something I didn’t want to discuss. So, I got mad and one thing led to another as it usually does in arguments.” Smith said.
“But, correct me if I’m wrong,” continued Scarpello. “You originally stated to police, as well as to the jury, that Mr. Jones had gotten physical with you first. Now, you are agreeing that you had indeed taken physical action first?”
Smith became flustered, “What I meant was he came at me first with the yelling. I can’t really remember who got physical first now that I think of it.”
Scarpello had thrown Smith for a loop.
That was not the only lie he would catch him in either. Smith became increasingly frustrated on the stand. He grew hostile as Scarpello pressed him about details of his story. This was a calculated tactic by Scarpello to show to the jury Smith’s aggressive nature.
Next it was Tommy Jones’ turn to take the stand.
He explained, “I went to Rob’s house to talk, which turned into a full-on screaming match. Then he started pushing me and swinging fists. I fought back to protect myself, and then he pulled out a knife and stabbed me in my left shoulder. Jones pulled up his shirt to show the jury a long ugly scar on his shoulder. I had to protect myself so I grabbed the knife out of his hand and punched him with it a couple times. I was scared for my life!”
During his own cross-examination, Jones remained calm and collected. The prosecutor could not ruffle him. His story remained the same from the night of the physical altercation until then. Jones was well-spoken, polite, and quick to recite his responses. Quite the opposite of the plaintiff, Smith, who had become more and more angry as the questions delved deeper.
“No further questions,” the plaintiff’s attorney defeatedly stated. Jones confidently returned to his seat next to Mr. Scarpello. However, Scarpello’s work was not done yet.
Scarpello called Venita and her friend as eyewitnesses. Each said she had seen Rob run from his porch and start fighting with Tommy. Neither woman could be sure who had pulled out the knife because it was dark and the men were moving around.
After the plaintiff, defendant, and multiple witnesses testified, it was the moment of truth, the closing arguments.
Scarpello had to make a lasting impact with his words for his client. This was the opportunity to reiterate key evidence and persuade the jury to make their decision in favor of Jones. Scarpello hit the ground running.
“Ladies and gentlemen the credible evidence shows that Tommy Jones was the victim in this case, not the attacker. Rob Smith has a short fuse. You saw that when he testified on the stand. He was upset at Venita when she showed up unannounced at his doorstep. He became enraged when he saw Tommy standing behind her. His anger resurfaced when I confronted him about that night.
Rob Smith wanted this ugly incident over and he was going to put an end to it himself. When he went inside and closed his front door it was so nobody would see him hide a knife in his pants pocket. Rob was angry but he wasn’t dumb. He wasn’t about to get into a fist fight with someone as big as Tommy Jones without having an advantage. He wanted to catch Tommy off guard, which is why he hid the knife and sprung it on him by surprise.
Tommy Jones was not there to fight Rob Smith. He was surprised when Smith ran out of his house and grabbed him. He became fearful for his own life after Smith plunged the blade into his left shoulder. At that moment Tommy Jones didn’t know if he would survive. He used all the remaining strength he had left to overpower Smith.
The law says that a person is justified in using deadly force when that person reasonably fears for his own life. Here, Tommy knew his life was in jeopardy when he felt the searing pain in his shoulder. He wasn’t the one who brought the knife, Rob Smith did. Tommy defended himself and is lucky to have survived.
Each case is a search for the truth. The truth about this case wasn’t immediately clear. Rob Smith lied to police about who started the fight and about who brought the deadly weapon. But the truth was revealed in this courtroom. Tommy Jones didn’t start any fight and he didn’t pull a knife on anyone. Tommy Jones is innocent of these charges and you must find him not guilty.”
Jones sat anxiously picking at his fingers knowing his fate was in the hands of the complete strangers on the juror panel. Smith sat with his eyebrows furrowed and an almost angry look on his face. He seemed to be still shaken up from his intense interrogation from Scarpello. Neither man could sit calmly thinking about their possible fate.
The stakes couldn’t be higher. If Jones was found guilty of the criminal charges, he would go to jail. The tension could be felt throughout the courtroom, as they all waited for the jury members to return with their verdict.
After deliberations that seemed to take forever, the jury returned to the courtroom, filing back into their seats.
The courtroom stood to their feet as the judge took his place. “Has the jury reached a decision,” the judge asked. Everyone in the courtroom quickly shifted their attention towards the jurors.
The foreperson stood up to deliver the jury’s decision and the courtroom fell silent.
“We have your honor,” the foreperson of the jury said. Tommy Jones stood nervously as he awaited the decision that could change his life forever. He held his breath and quietly said a prayer as the foreperson announced the jury’s verdict.
“We the jury find the defendant not guilty.”
Jones let out a sigh of relief and hugged Scarpello. He smiled while peering back towards his family.
The lawyers shook hands, as did the plaintiff and defendant. It appeared the men parted ways burying the conflict that previously led them to the courtroom. Jones hugged his family members who sat crying tears of joy in the seats behind.
There are thousands of stories in the big city like the one that happened to Tommy Jones. Thanks to The Law Offices of Scarpello and LaTour, this story had a happy ending for our client.
Every case is different. If you are in trouble with the law or facing trial on criminal charges you need attorneys who are experienced at winning cases. Contact the attorneys at Scarpello & LaTour for a free consultation. When it’s your life on the line, don’t settle for anything less than the best representation.