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Chester man charged with first-degree murder in January 2018 shooting death

Media, Pa -- Today Delaware County District Attorney Katayoun Copeland and Commissioner Otis Blair of the Chester Police Department announced the arrest of Darnell Jamil Thomas for the shooting death of Chadease Coleman, 20, on January 23, 2018, in the area of the 500 block of Mosley Court in Chester.

Darnell Jamil Thomas, 30, of the unit block of West 21st Street in Chester, is charged with first-, second- and third-degree murder, robbery, possession of a firearm without a license, possession of instruments of crime, and conspiracy to commit robbery and first-degree murder. The investigation was conducted by Detective David J. DeFrank of the Chester Police Department and Detectives Timothy Deery and Vincent Ficchi of the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office Criminal Investigation Division (CID).

As the result of information provided by witnesses, combined with video surveillance, cell phone records and social media accounts, authorities filed charges against Darnell Jamil Thomas who was identified as one of the individuals who shot and killed Chadease Coleman on January 23, 2018.

On January 23, 2018, at 8:31 p.m. the Chester Police Department responded to the 500 block of Mosley Court in Chester for the report of a shooting victim. Upon arrival, police found Chadease Coleman seated inside his vehicle, a white KIA SUV, and suffering from gunshot wounds. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene shortly thereafter by paramedics. Police confirmed the victim, Chadease Coleman, was the driver of the vehicle and two small children were also in the backseat during the shooting. At the scene, it was reported that the vehicle involved in the shooting was a black sedan with two red Christmas bows on the front of the vehicle.

An investigation revealed that Witness #1 was dating Coleman’s best friend, who is identified as Witness #2. Coleman and Witness #1 then began a secret relationship behind Witness #2’s back. Witness #2 found out about the relationship which led to friction between Coleman and Witness #2 who had been best friends for a long time. Several hostile and threatening messages were sent and posted through social media between Witness #2 and Coleman. On January 6, 2018, Coleman confronted Witness #2 which led to Witness #2 sustaining injuries and necessitating medical attention at a hospital.

Immediately following Witness #2’s discharge from the hospital, a male identified as Matthew Leopold picked Witness #2 up in Matthew Leopold's black Tahoe. In the car, Leopold introduced Witness #2 to a male identified as "Dar,” later identified as defendant Darnell Thomas, who was seated in the front passenger seat and wearing a ski mask along with a hoodie over his head. Witness #2 said that they then picked up another male from the area of the McCaffery Village Housing projects.

Witness #2 inquired what they were doing, and Leopold and Thomas said that when "it goes down,” Witness #2 was going to have to leave the area and stay out of sight for a while. Witness #2 said they then drove around Chester looking for Coleman’s white KIA. Witness #2 believed that "Dar'' and Leopold were going to attempt to kill Coleman if they found him. Witness #2 told them, “Listen, there's no reason to take anybody's life over this. This is stupid; there's no point in doing this- it's not that serious.”

On January 23, 2018, Witness #1 and Coleman were driving in a KIA SUV on Tilghman Street when a Matthew Leopold’s black Lincoln blocked them in. They continued driving to the 500 block of Mosley Court, and as they turned onto the block, the Lincoln came towards them travelling the wrong way down the one-way street, bringing the vehicle to a stop. Coleman then got out of the KIA and was standing behind the open door. Leopold exited the driver’s side door of the Lincoln and asked why Coleman assaulted Witness #2. Darnell Thomas then got out of the passenger side of the Lincoln, approached Coleman and attempted to rob him, ultimately leading to an altercation. As this was going on, a third male approached Coleman as well. At that time, Coleman was shot by two individuals, one of whom was identified as the defendant, Darnell Jamil Thomas.

“As the result of unjustified retribution, the defendant Darnell Jamil Thomas, planned and conspired to rob and kill the victim in this case,” said District Attorney Katayoun M. Copeland. “This was a calculated act of senseless violence against the victim, Chadease Coleman, whose life was needlessly taken at the young age of just 20-years-old. As the result of cooperation and assistance from the community, we were able to make two arrests in this case. I would like to commend the investigative work of Detective DeFrank of the Chester Police Department and CID Detectives Timothy Deery and Vincent Ficchi for their extensive work on this complicated case.”

CRIMINAL CHARGES, AND ANY DISCUSSION THEREOF, ARE MERELY ALLEGATIONS AND ALL DEFENDANTS ARE PRESUMED INNOCENT UNTIL AND UNLESS PROVEN GUILTY.
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OFFICE OF THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY
DELAWARE COUNTY COURTHOUSE
MEDIA, PENNSYLVANIA 19063
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610-891-4161

KATAYOUN M. COPELAND, DISTRICT ATTORNEY
JOSEPH A. RYAN, CHIEF OF DETECTIVES

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: August 3, 2018
CONTACT PERSON: Emily H. Harris, 610.891.4252