- Associated Press - Thursday, December 3, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Eight years after an aspiring teacher was gunned down for his iPod weeks after moving to Philadelphia, a man already serving life for killing a witness in the case went on trial this week.

Beau Zabel’s death was long considered a cold case. The 23-year-old from Minnesota was shot in the back of the neck as he walked home from a night shift at Starbucks.

Police charged 37-year-old Marcellus Jones in the South Philadelphia slaying two years ago, after Jones was convicted of killing the suspected getaway driver. They have no DNA or other physical evidence linking him to the crime, but say he later told relatives that he killed 19-year-old Tyrek Taylor because the alleged accomplice had been talking about Jones “killing the teacher.”

One family friend decided to talk to police in 2013, when he found himself in jail for trashing his apartment.

“I really wasn’t going to get involved but then I thought it was as good a time as any if I wanted to get out of jail,” said Bruce Mattux, who was dating Jones’ sister and said he heard the talk at a family party.

The sister had a change of heart on the witness stand, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported (https://goo.gl/tAfJia ). She had previously implicated her brother in both slayings, but told jurors Thursday she had made it all up.

“It’s all a lie, and that’s the God’s honest truth,” said Tiffany Jones, who sobbed during her testimony and told her brother she missed him as she left the courtroom.

Zabel had moved from Austin, Minnesota, to Philadelphia to start work in the public schools a month before he was killed.

In court Wednesday, witness Toni Nelson recalled seeing Zabel on the ground as she peered outside after hearing a loud boom.

“He’s still down. He’s not moving,” she said on a 911 call played in court. “There’s another guy out there, he’s looking for a bullet.”

However, questioned by a defense lawyer, she said she could not remember anything else about the second man.

Her adult daughter testified that she also saw the man searching near the body. Neither woman identified Jones in court.

The jury also saw a grainy surveillance video from a nearby restaurant that showed a man suspected of being Zabel stopping to buy a soda from a vending machine.

Police believe Jones followed Zabel from the Starbucks to the spot several blocks away where he was killed.

Zabel was enrolled in a teaching program at Drexel University, where he planned to teach math to inner-city children during the day and take courses at night.

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