Boyfriend of shooting victim Chrisian Chambers has been tried for murder

UPPER DARBY — A Township man was tried in the shooting death of his girlfriend earlier this year at the home they shared on State Road.

Marlon Wright, 31, of the first block of North State Road, is charged with criminal homicide, first and third degree murder, possession of an instrument of crime and possession of a firearm with a serial number changed upon the death of Christian Chambers on March 28. .

Magistrate District Judge Harry J. Karapalides heard from a cousin of the victim and two police officers during a preliminary hearing in district court on Monday.

The cousin, who is from Jamaica, told Assistant District Attorney Michael Hill that she was visiting in March but hadn’t spent much time at the home, where Wright and Chambers were living with the brother of Wright. Chambers’ brother owned the home, but did not live there, she said.

The cousin said Wright was violent towards Chambers and once hit her in the head three times with a gun, requiring stitches. Wright allegedly kept a gun in the couch, she said.

On the day Chambers died, the cousin said the pair had been arguing for about 1 p.m. and Wright at one point threw a drink in Chambers’ face and then hit her three times in the head with the cup , but not strong enough. draw blood.

The two were still arguing when the cousin said she left to join a friend at 69th Street shortly before 2 p.m. During the walk, the cousin said she saw a lot of police cars heading in the opposite direction and tried to call her cousin.

Getting no response, the cousin said she called Wright, who answered and assured her that everything was fine. She said she then tried calling Chambers four more times without success before calling Wright again, who reassured the cousin a second time that everything was fine.

Upper Darby Police Officer Michael Crispin testified he was called to the scene at 33 N. State Road shortly before 2 p.m. to a report of a shooting. A neighbor said he heard a loud banging noise, he said.

The front door was locked and officers used a battering ram to gain entry, Crispin said. On the first floor, they smelled a strong odor of marijuana and found a blunt still burning in an ashtray in the kitchen, he said.

Crispin led a group of about four or five officers down the stairs and first saw the victim lying in a pool of blood in the front bedroom, he said. She was breathing and weakly waving her arms, he said. After officers cleared the floor, he administered CPR until paramedics were brought in.

Crispin told defense attorney Marni Jo Snyder, representing Wright with Michael Dugan, that Chambers had not spoken to him. As the bedroom began to fill with people, two officers moved a bench-like ottoman to the foot of the bed, revealing a handgun magazine, Crispin said. A 9mm handgun locked with its slide rearward and without a magazine was found in a dresser drawer that had been left open, he said. The gun had blood on it, Crispin said.

Chambers was taken to Lankenau Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead at 5:22 p.m. that day.

The cousin said she was with Chambers’ mother the next day when Wright called her, claiming the shooting was an accident and asking to see the victim.

“He said he and Chrissy were looking for the gun and he didn’t know there was one (a cartridge) in the chamber,” she said. “He clicked the button to drop the clip and the clip fell off and the gun exploded. He was crying and saying he was sorry.

Upper Darby Detective Francis George said he arrived at the scene after the victim was transported and retrieved the weapon, which had a casing lodged inside. The serial number had been erased but a technician was able to restore it and determine it belonged to a Philadelphia man who claimed not to know it was missing, George said.

George said a ‘drop test’ was performed on the firearm and it did not discharge when dropped. Hill added that a report indicated the trigger required more than six pounds of pressure to fire.

George described still images in court that he says were taken from surveillance video at the corner of 54th and Media streets in Philadelphia about 35 or 45 minutes after the initial 911 call. These allegedly showed Wright parking and getting out of a black Infiniti Q50 with a duffel bag and no shoes, then meeting a woman who bagged a white Infiniti before they both got into a third gray Infiniti driven by someone another and left the area. Wright had changed clothes and put on sneakers at some point off-screen, George said.

George said Wright’s wife informed investigators that she had moved the black Infiniti to the corner of 54th Street and Lansdowne Avenue, where Philadelphia police were able to retrieve it. This vehicle, registered to Wright’s wife, was returned to the Upper Darby police garage where investigators found blood on the driver’s door, the ceiling near some buttons and on papers in the glove box, George said.

Blood samples have been taken and sent to a lab, he said, but no results have come back yet. Swabs were also taken from the gun for DNA, according to George, but he was unsure whether he was also tested for fingerprints.

The cousin reported that Wright was driving a black Infiniti and parked it behind the North State Road address on March 28. Video from a nearby pizzeria showed a black sedan leaving the area at the time of the shooting, but the make and model could not be determined, George said.

Wright’s wife, who made the first call to 911 after Wright told her his girlfriend had committed suicide, provided police with her cell phone number, according to an affidavit of probable cause for his arrest . Repeated calls to that number yielded no results, George said, but police eventually made contact with a person who said they found the phone at the intersection of Laurence and Tobacco roads, near the crime scene. .

Snyder argued at the end of the hearing that the Commonwealth had failed to establish the elements of the murder charges because there was no evidence of intent or a confession, except that Wright allegedly alleged that the shooting was an accident.

She added that Wright dropping the magazine of the gun actually indicated the opposite of an intent to harm someone and that there was not even evidence of the type of negligence that could result in homicide charges. involuntary.

“Someone who pulls the magazine out of a gun to make sure somebody doesn’t get hurt doesn’t have extreme indifference to the value of human life,” Snyder said. “That’s just not where it falls.”

Hill countered that only Wright made the self-serving statement that it was an accident, and pointed to the rest of the testimony regarding the alleged abuse, the fight and Wright hiding that Chambers was injured even as she was bleeding. on the bedroom floor.

“We have a fight, we have Marlon Wright hitting her, we have five minutes later she is shot and killed,” Hill said. “And then we have the cousin who calls and says, ‘Is she okay? I see all these police cars going by,” and he doesn’t say it was an accident. He then lies saying, “She’s perfectly fine, she’s perfectly fine”, as he gathers his things in his gym bag, runs out and moves the car, and hides what he has. fact.

Wright is due to be formally arraigned June 22 at the Media County Courthouse. He remains in custody without bond at the Concord County Jail.

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