Posted by Real-Time News.
'I was in the car the whole time,' Hasheam Mack-Tamsmore says at guilty plea hearing.
The plan was just to rip off an Allentown man during a marijuana deal on the city’s east side last fall, Hasheam Mack-Tamsmore said Monday.
On the night of Sept. 25, Mack-Tamsmore and a previously unidentified second man pulled guns on Diego Luis Hernandez Rivera and Hector Badillo, and took about one pound of marijuana, cash and a phone, prosecutors said.
But one of the robbers fired his gun and Rivera was fatally shot once in the chest. Until Monday, prosecutors did not know the identify of the second man and weren’t sure who fired the fatal shot.
During his guilty plea to third-degree murder and robbery, 19-year-old Mack-Tamsmore said he was only the driver during the deal, and that the second man, Terrell Neal, was the gunman in the killing.
After the hearing, First Assistant District Attorney Steven Luksa refused to comment if police were looking for Neal, and would only say his office has not issued a warrant for Neal.
Records show a Terrell Neal was arrested Aug. 12 and is in a Philadelphia jail on firearms charges.
Sentencing for Mack-Tamsmore is set for Oct. 13. As part of the deal, his minimum sentence will be capped at 25 years in state prison, and he faces a maximum of 60 years. The teen remains in Lehigh County Jail without bail.
RELATED: Witnesses describe fatal marijuana robbery in East Allentown
Police said Rivera and Mack-Tamsmore were arranging a drug deal the day of the shooting through text messages, with the last contact 11 minutes before the shooting.
Rivera’s stepbrother, Kevin Ortiz, previously testified that he drove Rivera to American Plaza, where a red SUV met them, and then drove to Jay Street with the SUV following behind.
Mack-Tamsmore said he was driving and Neal was in the passenger seat. Both were armed, but Mack-Tamsmore said Neal had an AR-15 rifle that night.
Rivera got out of the car and went into the SUV, while Ortiz stayed in the car. Ortiz testified he was eating and getting ready to make a call when he heard a boom and saw a flash. Ortiz said he got out of the car and ran to hide, and when he looked out he saw Rivera’s body in the street with a gunshot wound.
On Monday, police said Rivera was reaching to get out of the car, when Neal said he thought Rivera was reaching for a gun. The two men got out of the car, and were scuffling over the AR-15 Neal was holding, when Neal fired one shot, Mack-Tamsmore said.
“I was in the car the whole time,” Mack-Tamsmore said.
Luksa said Rivera’s wound was “rapidly fatal” and he was dead by the time police arrived. Luksa said evidence showed it would have been difficult for Mack-Tamsmore to fire the rifle from the driver’s seat and hit Rivera.
Police said they previously showed the teen a photo of Neal, but he did not identify Neal. On Monday, police showed Mack-Tamsmore the same photo, and he confirmed it was Neal.
After the shooting, Neal and Mack-Tamsmore split the marijuana, and the teen said he drove Neal back to Philadelphia.
Police found Rivera’s cellphone near his body, and found the texts between him and “Mack.” Police used the number to track the phone to various stores, and learned a girl — Mack-Tamsmore’s girlfriend — shared the phone with him and was using it to apply for jobs.
Police used cellphone records to identify Mack-Tamsmore and they used the girlfriend’s employment applications to find his address in the 300 bock of North Sixth Street, according to court records.
When police raided his apartment, they found a Colt AR-15 assault rifle with a spent casing stuck in the rifle, dozens of rounds of ammunition, numerous bags of marijuana, packaging material, cash and gloves, police said.
During the guilty plea, Mack-Tamsmore said he met Neal at the Glen Mills Schools in Delaware County. Prosecutors said they are requesting Neal’s records to confirm the information.