was convicted of murder in the first degree and criminal conspiracy
to kill Kenneth Rankine.
The evidence presented at trial
revealed the following details concerning the shooting of
Kenneth Rankine on the night of August 12,
Jacqueline Brown testified that on
the evening in question, she was standing on the sidewalk outside
her home in Philadelphia at 11:30 p.m. Jacqueline Brown was with her
cousins, Kenneth Rankine and Neville Bobby Hill, and her boyfriend
While this group was assembled,
three individuals approached them simultaneously. Two unidentified
men approached together from the direction of 52nd Street as
John Wayne approached from 53rd Street and
engaged Bobby Hill in conversation for
about fifteen minutes. This was a private conversation between
Wayne and Bobby
Hill and did not involve the other persons present. Jacqueline Brown
did not observe any interaction between Wayne
and the two unknown individuals.
Jacqueline Brown spoke to one of
the unknown men, commenting on his boots. When the unknown man
acknowledged Jacqueline's compliment by modeling his boots, he
turned his body and Jacqueline observed that he possessed a gun.
Jacqueline advised her boyfriend,
Paul Green, of the gun. Paul directed
Jacqueline to go into her house. Jacqueline retreated to the
enclosed porch of her house from where she continued to observe the
persons on the street.
came onto the porch and Jacqueline advised him that one of the men
was carrying a gun. Kenneth walked through
Jacqueline's house out the back door to the street, then retraced
his steps and returned to the group on the sidewalk.
returned to the street, Jacqueline observed
Wayne "grip up" Bobby
Hill and walk him across the street.
At that same time, the two unknown
men began shooting at Kenneth.
Kenneth fell to the ground.
Bobby Hill ran away from
Wayne and the two unknown men shot at
him as he was running.
The two unknown men and
Wayne all ran from the scene in the same
direction. Immediately following the
shooting, Jacqueline identified a photograph of
Wayne at the police station.
Jacqueline also made a positive
identification of Wayne at trial.
Jacqueline Brown testified that on the
night of the shooting Wayne had a
distinctive gold tooth. Jacqueline acknowledged that at the time of
trial Wayne did not have a gold tooth,
however she remained positive in her identification of
Wayne as the man she observed on the night
of August 12, 1994.
Hill testified that when Wayne first
approached, he recognized him from a previous meeting.
Wayne's conversation with
Bobby was casual; they discussed a nearby
Hill observed Kenneth go to his car. When
Kenneth came back to the group,
Bobby overheard Kenneth and the two
unknown men exchange bitter words. Kenneth
and the two unknown men were standing behind
Bobby Hill and John Wayne.
heard sounds indicative of wrestling. He
turned and observed one of the unknown men pointing a gun at
Kenneth. At that point
Wayne grabbed Bobby and held a gun
to his head, forcing him across the street towards
did not see the gun but he felt the muzzle against his head.
Bobby heard a click, which he believed was
the gun firing, but realized the gun had
not fired at the same time he heard the gunfire behind him from the
direction of Kenneth and the two unknown
men. Bobby fled; hearing shots being fired
in his direction as he ran.
Officer Napoli of the Philadelphia
Police Department was the first officer to arrive at the scene of
the shooting. Officer Napoli observed a gun in
Kenneth's right hand. The officer identified the gun as a
.380 semi-automatic handgun.
A short time after the arrival of
Officer Napoli, a criminal evidence specialist for the mobile crime
unit of the Philadelphia Police Department arrived at the scene
and retrieved two nine-millimeter cartridge cases and four
.380 cartridge cases from the scene.
Doctor McDonald the assistant
medical examiner for the City of Philadelphia performed the autopsy
on Kenneth. The cause of death was
multiple gunshot wounds.
Dr. McDonald identified six
distinct gunshot wounds: 1) in the back of the head, 2) the back of
the neck, 3) the left upper back, 4) the left middle back and
traveling through the aorta, 5) the left lower back and traveling
into the aorta and the liver, and 6) the right lower back traveling
through the intestines and the abdomen.
Dr. McDonald testified that three
of the six wounds were fatal as they struck a vital part of the body.
Officer O'Hara of the Philadelphia
Police Department testified as a firearms expert. Officer O'Hara
testified that the gun found in Mr. Rankine's hand had not been
fired. Officer O'Hara testified that the .380 cartridges found at
the scene did not come from Mr. Rankine's gun.
The evidence presented was
sufficient to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that
Wayne entered into a conspiracy with two
unidentified men on the night of August 12, 1994 to kill Kenneth
and the two unknown men approached Bobby
Hill and Kenneth from different directions,
the fact that they all arrived simultaneously leads to the logical
inference that their joint appearance was planned. While
Wayne engaged Bobby
Hill in conversation, the two unknown men
did not interact with any of the other persons present.
Brown testified that she attempted a conversation with one of the
men by commenting on his boots, but the two men made no attempt at
further conversation. In fact, Jacqueline
walked away from the group on the sidewalk when the gun one of the
men was carrying aroused her suspicions.
The sequence of events leads to
the logical inference that Wayne engaged
Bobby Hill in a meaningless conversation
to distract him from the intentions of the two unidentified men.
When the two unidentified men
began shooting at Kenneth,
Wayne forcibly removed
Bobby from the center of the melee. Wayne
held a gun to Bobby's head
and attempted to use that gun on Bobby,
however, the gun malfunctioned and Bobby
was able to escape, even though his flight was followed with a hail
of bullets from the two unknown men. Wayne
was observed fleeing the scene of the shooting in the same direction
as the two unidentified men.
The record presents sufficient
information from which the jury could reasonably infer that
Wayne was a co-conspirator of the two
unidentified men who actually inflicted the fatal wounds on
are still appeals pending and this execution is not likely to take
place on this date (1999).