Thursday, August 13, 2020

Slaughter Of Innocents: D.A. Grants House Arrest To Baby Killer

By Ralph Cipriano

For accused baby killer Tyreek Lemon the deal from the District Attorney's office was just too good to pass up.

Gary Server, Lemon's defense lawyer, asked his client if he was making the decision to waive his preliminary hearing on Feb. 19, 2019, "of his own free will."

"Yes," replied Lemon, 34, of Southwest Philadelphia. He's a former Walmart manager who also served for 14 years as a Democratic committeeman in the 60th ward.

Lemon, who initially was looking at a much longer jail sentence, told the judge he intended to plead guilty to suffocating his 2 1/2 month old son, Orion, to death. But the D.A.'s office, which had already worked out a generous plea bargain for the defendant that included a lenient sentence, wasn't through doing favors for the confessed baby killer. 

"Would you consider having a house arrest condition . . . " Assistant District Attorney Cydney Pope asked Judge James DeLeon.

Lemon's lawyer thought that slapping an ankle bracelet on Lemon, who was staying at his mother's house, was a great idea, especially when compared to jail. So the judge signed off on the D.A.'s request for house arrest for the defendant who had just admitted that he suffocated his own infant son to death.

"All right, very good," the defense lawyer said.

Justice in Philadelphia, Larry Krasner style. The criminal gets all the breaks, and nobody cares about the victim, who in this case was unable to speak for himself. 

On June 12, 2019 in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, Assistant District Attorney Chelsey Lightsey was explaining the murder of 2 1/2-month-old Orion Tyreek Lemon to Judge Lilian Harris Ransom.

"Your Honor, we are here today because on June 26th of 2016, 12th District police officers" responded to a call in the 23000 block of Bonnaffon Street at 8:31 a.m. and found an "unresponsive" infant.

"The child was taken to the Children's Hospital at Philadelphia and pronounced dead at 9:10 a.m.," the prosecutor told the judge. "Your Honor, in this case the death was originally classified as SIDS," or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

A brief obituary for Orion Tyreek Lemon stated that he was born on March 31, 2016 and died on June 26, 2016. 

"During the times he spent with us, he enjoyed playing with his brother and being the center of attention to his sisters," the obituary stated. The infant  enjoyed "being pushed in his stroller by his uncle at the beach, laughing, taking baths and meeting new people."

On Sept. 5, 2018, police reopened an investigation into Orion's death because they had received new information.

"On Sept. 20, 2018, police learned from the two minor daughters of this defendant, Tyreek Lemon, that this defendant would always get mad when the baby would cry," the prosecutor told the judge.

"The daughters described how the defendant would shove the baby's head into the mattress and cover it with blankets and pillows to make the child stop crying. When the child would be uncovered, he would be sweating and gasping for air."

When police interviewed Kingia Phillips -- Orion's mother, and Tyreek Lemon's fiancé -- "police learned that on the night Orion Lemon was killed, the baby was crying in his parents' bed," the prosecutor told the judge.

"Kingia Phillips covered the baby with a winter coat," the prosecutor said. "The defendant put a pillow over the baby. Kingia Phillips then fell asleep. When Ms. Phillips awoke, Orion was unresponsive and police were called."

 During the court proceedings, when Lightsey was reading the charges in the plea bargain to the judge, she made the mistake of saying that the charge of involuntary manslaughter was a second-degree felony. It was left to the court clerk to correct Krasner's assistant district attorney on the law.

"Your Honor, I'm sorry to interrupt," Lightsey told the judge, but "as always Cathy [the clerk] is right," she said. "This is a felony of the third degree, as it was charged on the bill. Thank you for pointing that out."

It was time for the defendant to be arraigned.

"Tyreek Lemon," the court crier asked. "On the charge of involuntary manslaughter, how do you plead?"

"Guilty," Lemon said. 

He also pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of a child, and possession of an instrument of crime.

Sentencing was a couple of months away. The defendant, who had just pleaded guilty to murdering his own child could have been sent off to jail. But the D.A.'s office wasn't through doing favors for a baby killer.

"Your Honor, we're not going to ask that the defendant be taken into custody today," Lightsey told the judge. "He has shown up for every court hearing. What we will ask for is that in the interim between now and sentencing that the defendant have no contact with children, including his own."

"He is on house arrest," the prosecutor said. "And I'm asking if the court would change the conditions of the house arrest to allow him to seek and maintain employment also to go to church."

Lemon told the judge that he was actively looking for a job, but it was difficult because of his legal situation.

"Well, the job interview that I went went to, they were waiting to see the main charges that was on my thing to be dropped," Lemon told the judge. "So they was waiting to see that if [it] was dropped to see if they were going to be able to hire me or not. And then it was another one [job interview] today that I'm probably not going to be able to make. And there's another one next week."

The prosecutor asked if the judge would "be inclined to allow him [Lemon] to interview" with more prospective employers. The judge obligingly signed off on house arrest, with conditions.

"Mr. Lemon, you are to have no contact with any children, including your own children, between now and the time of sentencing," the judge stipulated. "Do you understand that?"

"Yes," Lemon said.

The judge explained that if Lemon even tried to contact the mother of his children on social media, he would face "legal problems," such as a contempt of court charge that might land him back in jail.

"Do you understand that" the judge asked the defendant. 

"Yes," Lemon replied.

"All right," the judge said. "Now, you are are on house arrest. House arrest will be amended to allow job interviews."

The judge had one more question. "Tell me about your church," she asked.

Lemon explained that he wanted to attend church services every Sunday at 11 a.m. He told the judge that the church services normally lasted until 3 p.m.

"All right," the judge said. "I'm going to make that 10 to 3. That will give you three hours of church service. So whatever you can get in that time should be fine."

"So house arrest is amended," the judge informed the defendant. "You can go to church service on Sunday."

"Thank you, Your Honor," Lemon said.

A seasoned former prosecutor with the Philadelphia district attorney's office was stunned by the prospect of the D.A.'s office proposing house arrest for a baby killer.

"Before Larry Krasner, that would have never, ever happened," he said. "I'm outraged, it's unheard of. You would never give a killer house arrest." 

It would have been nice if the recipient of all these breaks from the D.A.'s office didn't commit any further crimes after he murdered his own child in June of 2016.

But that wasn't the case.

When Lemon and Phillips took their kids on a vacation to Sea World, the cops had to be called because Lemon got violent again.

On Aug. 29, 2017, an arrest warrant was issued by the Orange County, FL Sheriff's Office to take Lemon into custody at Sea World for the crime of "battery (domestic violence)." Records say the sheriff's department arrested Lemon in the Sea World parking lot after the victim, Kingia Phillips, who was reported to be "extremely upset near hysterical," told the cops, "He pushed me down."

The couple were exiting the parking lot when Lemon allegedly grabbed a stroller containing their five-month-old child, and started "shaking it slightly while yelling at the victim."

"The victim feared for the child's safety at this point and tried to pull defendant's arms off of the stroller," a police report said. Lemon, however, "spun around and knocked the victim to the ground/pavement, with the use of his hand. The victim started to scream 'Call 911,' fearing that the defendant was going to take off with the child."

A person who observed the victim being knocked to the ground called 911. Lemon claimed Phillips struck him but that "could not be independently verified," police records state. The victim also complained that Lemon "grabbed her by the throat."

 She declined medical attention. Lemon posted a $1,000 bond on Aug. 30, 2017 and was released. A condition of his release stated that he was to have "no hostile or violent contact with the victim."

But the district attorney of Orlando, Fla., Aramis Ayala, declined to prosecute the case. As luck would have it -- for Lemon -- Ayala was another Democratic D.A. elected with the support of billionaire George Soros, who contributed nearly a million dollars into Ayala's campaign through a political action committee.

Ayala made national headlines in 2017 when she announced that, like Larry Krasner, she was opposed to the death penalty and that her office would refuse to pursue capital punishment in all future murder cases. Ayala's stance was politically unpopular because the case she chose to make her stand on  involved Markeith Lloyd, accused of killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend, as well as a cop.

Orlando Police Lt. Debra Clayton was attempting to arrest Loyd for the murder of his ex-girlfriend  when Lloyd shot and killed her, a crime caught on surveillance camera. Local cops were outraged by Ayala's decision not to seek the death penalty. So was Rick Scott, then the governor of Florida. Scott issued an executive order reassigning all capital murder cases in Orlando to another jurisdiction.

Ayala filed a lawsuit challenging the governor's executive order, but lost in court. Ayala subsequently announced last year that she would not seek reelection. 

Back in Philadelphia, Kingia Phillips went to court to seek a protection order against Tyreek Lemon that was granted on Nov. 20, 2017.

At the time he was arrested at Sea World, that arrest was a violation of Lemon's probation for his 2014 arrest for receipt of stolen property. He could have been thrown in jail immediately for violating his parole, but with this D.A.'s office, it didn't happen. 

What does the D.A. have to say about arranging house arrest for a baby killer, and giving him one break after another?

As usual, District Attorney Krasner and Jane Roh, his alleged spokesperson, did not respond to a Big Trial request for comment on the Lemon case. For more than a year, Krasner and Roh have been stonewalling questions from this blog.

On March 16, 2018, Kingia Phillips was interviewed by detectives. She stated that Lemon was her child's father whom she had previously been involved in a two-year relationship. And that Lemon had recently violated the terms of her protection order by attempting to contact her on Facebook.

According to what Phillips told the detectives, Lemon on Facebook was "saying he loves us and wants us to come back to him."

Lemon was arrested on contempt of court for violating the protection order. But on Aug. 14, 2018, the district attorney's office withdrew the charges.

Two months later, Lemon was arrested for murdering his son. Police also arrested the murder victim's mother.

On Oct. 30, 2019, Kingia Phillips, 27, of Southwest Philadelphia, pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of a child. She was sentenced to up to five years probation.

Tyreek Lemon has a lengthy rap sheet. At the age of 11, in 1995, according to juvenile records disclosed in Common Pleas Court, Lemon was an adjudicated delinquent -- meaning he was basically found guilty -- of three separate incidents of indecent assault and unlawful restraint. The last two incidents transpired in 1996 and 1997, when Lemon was 12 and 13 years old respectively. 

Lemon's record as an adult shows him pleading guilty in 2006 to retail theft; he was subsequently sentenced to two years of probation. 

In 2005, he was found guilty of simple assault and reckless endangerment and put on probation for a year. In 2009, he entered a guilty plea to disorderly conduct. In 2014, he pleaded guilty to receiving stolen property and using an access device to obtain property and/or service, and was placed on three more years of probation. In 2016, he was found guilty of driving without a license.

Oct. 3, 2018, the cops arrested Lemon and charged him with third-degree murder, endangering the welfare of children, corruption of minors, possession of an instrument of crime and reckless endangerment. That same day, he was released on $500,000 bail. 

The D.A. subsequently agreed to a plea bargain where the Commonwealth would drop the third-degree murder charge, as well as the charges of corruption of a minor, and reckless endangerment.

Instead, the D.A. offered a plea bargain where Leomon would plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter, endangering the welfare of children, and possession of an instrument of crime.

On Aug. 28, 2019, KYW reporter Kristen Johanson described how Lemon sat in the courtroom chewing gum while family members described his son Orion as a happy and peaceful baby who just wanted to be held.

The mother of another one of Tyreek Lemon's children told the judge that her daughter recounted to her that the day her father put a pillow over the baby's head he laughed about it when officials subsequently came for the baby's body.

On the witness stand, Lemon tried to refute allegations that he had been violent in the past. He didn't apologize for murdering his son, but he concluded his testimony by saying, "I love all my children. I love them to death."

"This is a travesty," the seasoned former prosecutor said about the case. Involuntary manslaughter usually involves a crime of negligence, such as driving 50 mph in a 30 mph zone. 

The suffocation of Orion was "an intentional act," the seasoned former prosecutor said. With a third-degree murder charge, Lemon was looking at 20 to 40 years in jail. Instead, thanks to the D.A.'s generous plea bargain, Lemon received a prison sentence of three and a half to seven years.

The charge of third-degree murder should have never been dropped because this man is a "dangerous person who killed his own infant son," the seasoned former prosecutor said.

What the prosecutor at sentencing should have been thinking, according to the seasoned former prosecutor, was, "I don't want to give Lemon a chance to love the rest of his children to death."

Instead, under the terms of his plea bargain, Lemon could be out on parole as early as next year.


  1. Thank you Ralph. You seem to be the only reporter willing to cover this defense attorney running the DA's office. It's unreal.

  2. By default, I am the only reporter covering Krasner's ongoing abuses of office. Meanwhile, my old newspaper, The Philadelphia Inquirer, is covering for Krasner on a daily basis.

    We're on pace for a record murder rate, innocents are being slaughtered in the streets. And the paper of record refuses to inform the public that the D.A. who is emptying the jails and refusing to prosecute criminals for carrying illegal guns is responsible for the mounting carnage.

    Reporters who are foolhardy enough to suggest writing critical stories about Krasner are told by their editors, This isn't a story.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Ralph, what position or role at the Inquirer has the final call or decision on stories such as this one? What us their title? Who would this decision maker report to? Recognizing this is likely futile, I want to play it out

    1. I'd go with Gabe Escobar, who's the editor and vice president:

    2. Been there and done that......many.
      , many times......not even the professional courtesy and decency of an acknowledgement

    3. They're very arrogant over there. You'd think they had a million subscribers. But as long as they've got Lenfest money to spend, why not keep the Titanic on course.

      They don't have an ombudsman, or somebody whose responsibility it is to deal with readers. The closest thing I could find to that is Brian Leighton, listed as the deputy managing editor in charge of editing and standards.

      But I've written him in the past and he's never responded.

      It's a sad state of affairs over there.

    4. Ralph, thanks for the info and update. I just cannot believe how foolish I was as a home subscriber for many, many years. Certainly, my experiences over the past several years has taught me otherwise.

      City officials & Inquirer management....heads buried in the same sand. Easy to do when you have no vertebrae.

      Now turning to the outside foundations, big and small, who fund such programs as the $500 million REBUILD Philadelphia initiative...

      William Penn, Philadelphia, Knight, etc foundations who have given large sums to this effort and the Chief Integrity Officer (Sarah Stevenson) who sits on the REBUILD oversight board and refuses to investigate a case of documented financial impropriety in which she had direct participation ...55% discountvon a Philadrlphia Water Department HELP loan

  4. Misstatements on the record are not unusual and they're not unintentional. The staff in those rooms are the eyes and ears of this whole affair. Notes of testimony are your best friend

  5. A Survey and Breakdown of Contributions made to D.A. Krasner by the esteemed Trial Lawyers of Philadelphia would provide insight to the machinations of this Office, that you are denied in seeking answers and discovery.

    Provide a List of the Top Ten Corrupt Legal Criminal Defense Offenders who have profited from the Rendell Institution of Pay to Play and let them experience the wrath of the Unsettled Citizenry.

    Defense Attorneys have been enriched while keeping their Clients free to rape rob and pillage while enjoying life without incarceration. The Wholesale Market of Justice by all Democrat Prosecutors in every Major City is one of the Great Scandals of the Century.

    Why should Defense Attorneys not be held to the same scrutiny and outrage as the D.A. and Criminal Class who they keep on the Street?

    Now that Demented Biden is running with the Career Blowjob from Cali, perhaps a greater effort will be in play to fully expose the glaring failures and corruption of the Criminal Justice System.

  6. America is in mourning, we lost our sense of right and wrong, the media is telling us what we have always believed as our basic understanding of justice to be wrong. It was commonly thought that baby-killers went to jail, gun violations were punished and federal authorities were honest and worked for justice jailing people who committed crimes, not using innocents for career advancements.

    Has the Inky lost their sense of justice and reasoning? When does it become too much even for them? Social warriors who are not listening when defendants tell them of atrocities committed by federal employees working as prosecutors. We want justice, we want the truth to come out, we want to be heard. We should be able to say that a federal prosecutor lied, he invented a crime, he withheld exculpatory evidence, he lied to a grand jury and threatened witnesses to lie to avoid jail time, and forced an innocent to confess to a crime that never occurred.

    How is possible that we have moved so far from the center that journalists do not care about the truth, specifically the very journalists who tell us how much the truth matters. Our sense of self-worth is distorted when innocents are the victims and criminals walk free. Does the Inky believe that hiding the truth will in the end change society for the better? Does their idea of social justice outweigh the truth? Any untruth is dangerous, it has allowed prosecutors to convince journalists to condemn a defendant believing it to be part of their social justice crusade viewing the prosecutors as the only credible sources of truth.

    We are being told by progressive politicians on media platforms to tell our truths, where can we go to do just that, where do we sign up, because our local rag has put blinders on when it comes to any truth that does not match their agenda. Unfortunately, Inky journalists remind me of people who get on their local condo boards, or civic associations or shade tree commissions to further their own agendas, trying to propel a cause they believe in on to people who flabbergasted at their total lack of sense of truth and justice. It appalls me to be told, we do not matter. that the truth does not matter, that our lives do not matter. This is dividing America, not what party you belong to but that your truth does not matter. Social justice starts with the truth, no matter how inconvenient for the Inky to accept.

  7. The entire media lost its collective mind on Nov. 9, 2016, when Donald J. Trump was elected president.

    The New York Times led the way in throwing out the entire standard journalistic rulebook. We've been in free fall ever since.

    The first casualty was truth.

  8. Or that no one has been listening for years, way before 2016. Having an agenda hurts everyone,it robs us of justice. If the Inky would only start listening to what people have been trying to tell them instead of dismissing the pleadings of innocence by defendants. The media in general never sides with a defendant, it would be UN-American to go against the government.Surely defendants who have been condemned could not be telling the truth. Criminal Justice reform needs to start with the media listening to a defendants truth.

  9. Ralph, your reporting is riveting and disturbing. Mass market and mainstream periodicals don't seem to have the interest, appetite or capability to do this kind of real, investigative journalism. Do you know of any other people or institutions that are doing work similar to yours in other cities, and if so could you refer me to them?

    1. Sadly, I don't actually. There's one guy out on the west coast, Andy Ngo, who's been covering the riots the media refuses to cover. I'm sure there are others; I'm just not aware of them.

  10. Much is being made of sports team operating in a bubble to ward of any possible exposure to Covid 19. Nothing really new, the mainstream media has been operating in a bubble to ward off anything that contradicts their self styled brand of social justice.

  11. Ralph, explain to me how a person can be sentenced to house arrest for the murder of an infant but the Philadelphia Traffic Court Judges could have gone to jail for decades for at best an ethical violation? An existing ethics board in Harrisburg could have handled such an issue. How can the feds turn an ethical violation into a federal crime but a murder warrants house arrest?

    It seems it depends on who wants you to go to jail and who determines what is a crime. How can the feds convince the Inky an ethical violation is a criminal offense but the murder of a child receives a slap on the writs? We know where the Inky stands on politicians, they have shown us repeatedly how they feel about all elected officials. Obviously, everyone other than a progressive deserves their scorn and jail time.

    As for Traffic Court, if a Supreme Court Justice wants something to be a crime and there are there very willing federal prosecutors to do the dirty work, an ethical violation becomes a federal crime punishable by life in prison, and the vengeance of Inky reporters for a millennium.

  12. Deleon and byrd gave my sons murderer 3/13 to 7 and was out in 3


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