Roxborough murder trial verdict leads to outburst, tripped CJC alarm

Kristen Johanson
May 24, 2019 - 4:52 pm
Criminal Justice Center

Holli Stephens/KYW Newsradio, file

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — An outburst inside a Philadelphia court room Friday afternoon tripped an alarm in the Criminal Justice Center, after a guilty verdict in the murder trial involving an elderly man from Roxborough. 

It began shortly after a jury found 22-year-old Damir Williams guilty of 2nd degree murder. As Williams was being escorted back to his cell he threw down his chair, his mother collapsed and another family member stormed out of the court room.

Prosecutors allege, in September 2017, Williams and Mark McLaughlin broke into a Roxborough home, where they bound and beat the 76-year-old homeowner, Anthony Martella.

Martella suffered broken ribs and head injuries, and died from pneumonia months later. The medical examiner testified the manner of death was homicide. 

Related: Roxborough man pleads guilty to murder, burglary of 76-year-old neighbor

However, the defense argued there wasn’t enough evidence to directly connect Martella’s death to a murder, and that there wasn’t any physical evidence to prove Williams had anything to do with it.

Judge Glenn Bronson immediately sentenced Williams to life in prison, calling the crime egregious and cruel. 

McLaughlin pleaded guilty to 3rd degree murder last month, accused of orchestrating the crime, and was sentenced to 26 1/2 to 55 years in prison.