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Latest News Article

This is really good, the reporter interviewed me after the verdit and I was so sick but I think he wrote it very well.

Guilty verdict delivered in double-murder case


By William Kenny

Times Staff Writer

In many cases, justice delayed is equivalent to justice denied.

Tacony's Bette Ann Clark knows all about justice delayed. She had to endure more than three years while first Philadelphia police, then the city's criminal justice system tried to identify and prosecute those responsible for the execution-style murders of her 15-year-old son, Timmy, and a family friend, Damien Holloway.

Finally last week, Clark's justice no longer could be denied.

A Common Pleas Court jury on Dec. 20 convicted two men of first-degree murder for the merciless July 13, 2007, slayings.

Upon the verdict, Judge RenŽe Cardwell Hughes suspended the trial's penalty phase until after the holidays. It is scheduled to begin on Jan. 3.

The district attorney's office will seek the death penalty for Gerald Drummond, 26, and Robert McDowell, 28, who ambushed the younger Clark and Holloway, 27, on the 6900 block of Vandike St. as the victims walked to Clark's home from a nearby convenience store.

"It's a mixed feeling of emotions because I've been on a roller coaster for so long," Bette Ann Clark said after the verdict. "I don't know whether to cry or be happy.

"I always thought, 'What if I never find out (who did it)?' There are always, 'What ifs?' But I had the greatest detective, Tom Gaul. I bugged him to death and he always got back to me. He said he would never give up on the case."

Assistant District Attorney Carlos Vega argued during the seven-day trial that Drummond's racism-fueled vendetta against Holloway motivated the killings.

Holloway, who was black, had fathered a child with Drummond's sister before breaking up with her. According to at least one witness, Holloway had openly denied that it was his baby, thereby "disrespecting" the mother.

So Drummond, who is white, recruited McDowell, his brother-in-law, to help him take out Holloway, who was living with Clark's family and employed the teen in his small lawn-care business.

The shooting occurred at about 2:20 a.m. Holloway and Clark were planning to work the next morning and had walked from Clark's house, on the 6800 block of Vandike St., to the 7-Eleven at Torresdale Avenue and Disston St., to get some snacks.

During the return trip, Drummond, of the 6800 block of Tulip St., and McDowell, of the 6400 block of Edmund St., ambushed the pair at gunpoint.

McDowell held the gun as they ordered the victims to kneel on the sidewalk with hands placed behind their heads. According to witness testimony, Drummond told McDowell to shoot them, but McDowell couldn't bring himself to do it.

So Drummond took the gun and did the deed, blasting Clark in the back of the head and Holloway in the jaw.

The killers then fled, leaving the bleeding victims in the street. Clark died at the scene while Holloway died days later in a hospital.

Drummond later told friends in reference to Holloway, "The ****** got what he deserved," according to prosecution witnesses, and called Clark "just a casualty" and a "loose end" that he had to tie up.

No eyewitnesses stepped forward initially. More than a year passed with no arrests and police revealing no suspects publicly.

After 14 months, however, detectives had rounded up enough after-the-fact witnesses - people who Drummond or McDowell had told about the shooting - to arrest the pair.

Eventually, at least one eyewitness emerged to place Drummond at the scene in the moment after the gunshots.

Defense attorneys Michael E. Wallace (for Drummond) and Gary Sanford Server (for McDowell) argued during the trial that there was no physical evidence, such as DNA, fingerprints or ballistics, linking either defendant to the crime.

Police never found the murder weapon, which is believed to have been a .38-caliber revolver based on bullet fragments recovered from the victims.

Wallace and Server also emphasized the secondhand nature of most of the testimony from prosecution witnesses, many of whom admitted to having been drug addicts or abusers.

The jury deliberated for a full day on Friday, Dec. 17, recessed for a weekend, then issued its verdicts on the ensuing Monday morning. It found each defendant guilty of two counts first-degree murder, along with numerous related charges.

No verdict can bring back Clark and Holloway, however.

"That's always in the back of your mind, but you always want the person who's responsible to be held accountable," Bette Ann Clark said. "I have a broken heart. Timmy was my baby. If [the verdict] gives a little bit of comfort, so be it. But my family's been through a lot of pain. Timmy didn't deserve to die. He was just a little boy. And neither did Damien."

Clark will rely on God to determine the fate of the killers.

"I'll never forgive them for what they did. The only way I'll forgive them is if God asks me to. It isn't up to me," she said.

The penalty phase is expected to last a few days. In it, the same jury will determine whether Drummond and McDowell will be sentenced to death or spend the rest of their lives in prison without possibility of parole.

Bette Ann Clark has no preference, but she intends to give a strong victim impact statement during the hearing.

"I'll let fate decide it, God's will," she said. "I'm doing it so they know who Timmy was. They need to see who they took away from us."

Reporter William Kenny can be reached at 215-354-3031 or bkenny@bsnphilly.com

Re: Latest News Article

Your right Bette it is a really good article. The did right by Timmy and I am sure he is so proud of you and his brothers the way you guys held up in court. Very classy interview...I know Timmy was with you...Luv ya Crazy Lady...Laura/AV

Re: Latest News Article

Very good article it is nice to see something other than trashing the victim. I too know Timmy is proud of you and his brothers you have been to hell and back.
Love ya
Jim's Mom

Re: Latest News Article

Thanks, they (the local paper) have always done great articles, they always helped me keep Timmy's name out there before we knew the POS's. With the vigil's and the benefits we had, thn the arrests. Now tomorrow is sentencing and I'm a wreck.

Re: Latest News Article

Oh dear sweet lady, one step closer, not to closure but to transision, not to getting your sweet boy back but to making sure that the men that took Timmy away from you will never be able to that to another family, to another mom. You and your boys have done it and with love and dignity. Your Timmy would be so proud. I am so very sorry you all had to walk this path. All my love Kayt

Re: Latest News Article

Bette, I think the reporter did a very good job on the article. Hopefully the sentencing phase will not be as hard on you and I hope they get what they deserve. Love ya.