On 1st day of trial of man accused of killing 2 teens, defense motions for mistrial

2017 mug shot of Brandon Olivieri
Photo credit Philadelphia Police Department

UPDATED: 6:32 p.m.


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — It was a tense day in court Tuesday, as the murder trial against a young Philadelphia man — who is accused of killing two 16-year-olds in South Philly a year-a-half ago — is underway.

Through a symphony of sobbing and sniffling in the gallery, Assistant District Attorney Dave Osborne outlined in his opening statement what authorities say happened the night 16-year-olds Caleer Miller and Salvatore DiNubile were shot in the chest, saying “a bullet ripped through each of their hearts.” 

He pointed to 18-year-old Brandon Olivieri as the lone gunman.

Prosecutors say Olivieri had a bruised ego after a fight weeks prior with DiNubile and his friends, and he sought the South Philly native near his home around 12th and Ritner streets on Oct. 24, 2017.  

Miller was Olivieri’s friend, and authorities said he was fatally caught in the crossfire.

Prosecutors point to several friends of both the victims and the defendant as eyewitnesses. 

Defense attorney Bob Mozenter dismissed the group in his opening statement, calling them liars several times and claiming detectives botched the investigation and made up statements.

Mozenter continued by saying the case is full of “inconsistencies, confusion and chaos”  and that there is no gun or forensic evidence linking Olivieri to the murders.

A teen eyewitness called to the stand said in court Tuesday that he saw Olivieri shoot Miller and DiNubile. The now 18-year-old testified he was with DiNubile when the pair were approached by a group, including the defendant and Miller.

He told the jury Olivieri said to DiNubile, "What are you trying to get into?" then pulled out a gun from his waistband. The two got into a wrestling match over the weapon, he said, and Olivieri eventually shot both DiNubile and Miller.

Mozenter heatedly peppered the witness about two written statements he made to police, asking him if he lied. The witness eventually said he omitted certain pieces of information at first because he was scared, but that it was only after he visited the DiNubile family that he went back to police a second time to identify Olivieri as the shooter.

Since tensions between the defendant’s and victims’ families have boiled over in the past — leading to fights inside court hallways, in the street and in the neighborhood — the Sheriff’s Office has ramped up security with an extra metal detector and a courtroom with a glass separation.

When the jury was out of the courtroom, Mozenter asked for a mistrial, saying the commonwealth kept pieces of the witness' testimony from the defense.

Judge Barbara McDermott denied the motion, but cautioned prosecutors to make sure all information is passed.

Testimony continues through the week.