- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 21, 2014

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - One stranger tapped on the passenger-side window. Another popped up at her door and jumped in the back.

Within minutes, the two carjackers had overtaken the real estate agent’s SUV, sexually assaulted her and crashed into a crowd at a busy intersection, killing a mother and three children selling fruit for a church fundraiser.

“You want to live? Or you want to die?” the agent said she was asked by the first man, who pointed what looked like a gun.

The woman identified him in court Tuesday as 23-year-old defendant Cornelius Crawford, and a judge upheld murder, sexual assault, carjacking and other charges. Co-defendant Johnathan Rosa, 19, earlier waived his right to a hearing.

Rosa’s lawyer hopes to work out a plea in the quadruple murder case, which happened so quickly that crash survivor Thelma Brown couldn’t get out of the way.

“I only moved an inch. I thought I moved faster,” the 65-year-old Brown testified Tuesday from a wheelchair, still nursing a broken foot and ankle. “All I could see was the guys jumping out of the car, running … and then this lady crawled out of the car.”

The carjack victim was in north Philadelphia that morning to show a house about a mile north of Temple University. She had her 2005 Toyota 4Runner in park and unlocked.

The woman said she tried to drive off slowly, but Crawford punched her in the temple and order her to speed up. He punched her anew with each command, she said.

“He just gave me orders, to make turns, or keep the speed,” the woman said.

They briefly stopped in a desolate street, where she was forced into the sex acts before Crawford took the wheel.

“He was driving crazy,” the woman said, sitting beside a Cantonese translator in case she needed help. “After not long, only a few minutes, I believe, it crashed.”

Witnesses at a nearby bus stop saw the mother and her youngest son flipped high into the air.

“The little boy, I knew, was dead already,” said witness Renae Cureton, 55, who had just watched him make a sale, selling four-for-$1 bananas to a passing motorist.

“He was starting to learn how to earn a dollar, by selling fruit. His mother had him doing that,” the boy’s father, Terrance Moore, said Tuesday of his late son, 7-year-old Terrance Moore Jr.

A 10-year-old brother, Thomas Joseph Reed, and 15-year-old sister, Keiearra Williams, died the day of the July 25 crash. Their mother died two weeks later.

Brown had just arrived to help Williams with the church fundraiser. Williams and her children regularly sold fruit and water at the vacant corner so their church could turn the lot into a playground. Williams has two surviving daughters who are living with relatives.

Crawford’s lawyer, C.P. Mirarchi III, gently challenged the carjack victim in court, noting that she didn’t tell police about the sexual assaults in her first statement, when she was hospitalized with bruises and broken bones.

“I (thought) they’re never going to catch those two guys, and I (didn’t) know what happened to the family. I just (kept) it to myself. I (felt) embarrassed,” the 45-year-old woman said.

Crawford had been out on parole for a few months, working odd jobs, after being incarcerated at age 16 for robbery. Relatives last month insisted that “he’s not (a) monster.”

Rosa, a high school graduate, planned to join the Marines. He met Crawford only days earlier.

Rosa’s cellphone - which Crawford allegedly wrapped with a T-shirt to brandish as a gun - was found in the stolen SUV. That helped police make the arrests. Blood found on a T-shirt left at the scene also matches Crawford’s, prosecutors said Tuesday.

The second-degree murder charges carry a maximum life sentence.

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