Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Testimony in Chester County slaying case includes info on modern technology

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WEST CHESTER — Modern technology helped track a high-end sedan from Philadelphia to western Chester County and establish the presence of a Philadelphia man at the home where a young man was slain in an ambush-style attack, according to testimony in the first-degree murder trial of a Cheyney University graduate Tuesday.

State Trooper Patrick Kilgarif, who is attached to the Pennsylvania State Police’s Avondale barracks, testified that he researched the license plate readers in four locations in the county to see what cars had been traveling in the area of Sadsbury, where 22-year-old Tariq Scott, Jr. was shot and killed while he sat in his girlfriend’s car outside his family home.

License plate readers are sophisticated cameras that record and data from stationary points on rod in the state. Their information is transmitted to firms such as Plate Logic, which can then assemble a list of license plates that pass through a certain intersection in a given time frame.

Kilgarif was able to match a license seen in the plate reader’s data bank with the C-400 Mercedes Sedan registered to Zahir Randall, an associate of Lynelle Flowers, who was a prime suspect in Scott’s murder. The trooper had been given Randall’s name by other investigators, who had them told of Randall’s friendship with Flowers.

When he got the license number, he was then able to get a visual image of the car, which had a unique “illuminated Mercedes star” emblem on the front grill — something few other cars of the same model had, the trooper told First Assistant District Attorney Erin O’Brien, who is leading the prosecution against Flowers. The care was seen at a Wawa in the area of the shooting.

State police officers were able to track the car from Philadelphia, where Flowers and Randall lived, to the Sadsbury area the night that Scott was shot at point blank range outside his home. When the cell phone number matched with Flowers was checked, it too showed the phone in the area where the murder took place, Kilgarif testified.

Randall pleaded guilty to charges of third-degree murder and conspiracy in October 2023, and was sentenced to 10 to 25 years in state prison — essentially for acting as the getaway driver in the fatal shooting. If Flowers is convicted of first-degree murder, he faces a mandatory life sentence without parole.

Common Pleas Judge Thomas P. “Tip” McCabe is hearing the trial without a jury. The case is expected to last through Thursday.

Flowers is a 2017 graduate of Cheyney University,  where he majored in business management. At the time of the shooting, he was running a clothing and accessory business he called “Family, Money, Business.”

Assistant District Attorney Joshua Parambath, who is co-counsel along with O’Brien, said in his opening statement in the case that Flowers had admitted his involvement in the shooting in an interview with state police.

But defense attorney Michael Noon, who is representing Flowers, told McCabe that the alleged confession was false, given by his client to get out of an hours-long interrogation. He contends that Flowers had no involvement whatsoever in Scott’s death,

Scott, a well-liked graduate of Coatesville Area High School known as “Rico” who dealt in cryptocurrency and lived with his parents, was shot five times in the neck while he sat in the passenger seat of a Kia owned by his girlfriend.  More than a dozen of Scott’s family and friends lined the seats of McCabe’s courtroom listening to testimony.

According to a criminal complaint filed by state Trooper Tyler Albee, Scott was targeted because of his relationship to Danaeja Buchanan, his sister and Flowers’ estranged girlfriend. The two men, however, had had an earlier confrontation when Scott accused Flowers of stealing money from him while Flowers lived with the family in Coatesville in early 2021.

According to a press release from the D.A.’s Office and Albee’s criminal complaint, Scott, his girlfriend, and her 1-year-old child were sitting in the girlfriend’s car outside the Valley Road home he shared with his father, step-mother, and sister around 2 a.m. on June 22, 2021. The family had allegedly been on the lookout for Flowers during the day because of threats he had made to kill Scott’s father, Travis Scott Sr. The victim was seen checking outside the window through closed curtains in the hours before his death.

Investigators learned that Flowers is the father of Buchanan’s two children. Two days earlier, on June 20, 2021 Flowers is believed to have physically assaulted Buchanan during an argument in the home they shared on South Alden Street in West Philadelphia after she said she was leaving him and taking the children.

According to authorities, Flowers punched and choked Buchanan and then slammed her against the floor. She sustained a concussion and bruising to her left eye socket. He also threatened to kill her father and stepfather.

That same day, Buchanan’s mother and aunt traveled to Philadelphia to take custody of the children, but Flowers and his family members assaulted them. While the Buchanan was at their house to take her belongings, she saw Flowers was seen retrieving what is believed to be a 9 mm handgun he kept on top of a kitchen cabinet.

Buchanan told others, including Scott, about the threats Flowers made. His father also told investigators that Flowers called him numerous times between June 20 and June 21, asking for his address so he could fight him. The victim’s father eventually blocked his harassing phone calls.

After the rest of the household had gone to bed the night of June 21, Scott, who worked late hours, and his girlfriend went out for a trip to Wawa. When they returned around 1:45 a.m., they sat in her car talking with her young child in the rear seat. Unbeknownst to them, Flowers and Randall had arrived at the scene about 45 minutes before and were waiting nearby in the dark for them to return.

According to the release, Flowers approached the car the couple was sitting in and fired five shots into it at point blank range, striking Scott in the neck and killing him. His girlfriend dove into the backseat to protect her child and called 911. Both men immediately fled from the area. Fired cartridge casings and two projectiles were found there.

In an interview with state Trooper Aaron Botts later that morning, Travis Scott Sr. allegedly told him that he “already knew” who had killed his son, naming Flowers and describing the previous days’ events.

To contact staff writer Michael P. Rellahan call 610-696-1544.

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