Press

Plea negotiations in April fatal hit-run?

by JULIE SHAW, Daily News Staff Writer shawj@phillynews.com, 215-854-2592
September 29, 2015 — 1:43 PM EDT

IT APPEARS the 27-year-old woman charged in the April fatal hit-and-run that crushed a 4-year-old boy in Kingsessing is trying to work out a plea deal.

Shanika Mason’s preliminary hearing, scheduled for Tuesday, was postponed to Oct. 20.

Her attorney, Michael Diamondstein, said outside the courtroom that “the commonwealth and I are trying to work out a just disposition for this matter.”

Diamondstein wouldn’t go as far as to say that Mason will plead guilty, but did say that on Oct. 20, he expects Mason to waive her preliminary hearing.

Defendants typically waive preliminary hearings when there is enough evidence against them to move forward to trial or to a guilty-plea hearing.

Mason, of Sharon Hill, Delaware County, faces charges of homicide by vehicle, involuntary manslaughter and accident involving death in the April 13 crash that killed Abdul Latif Wilson on 57th Street near Litchfield, in Kingsessing.

Tuesday was the second time Mason’s preliminary hearing was postponed. Each time, the little boy’s family came to the Criminal Justice Center, only to be told to return another day.

About a dozen family members – most wearing white T-shirts with the words “Justice for Latif” and the little boy’s photo on them – came to court Tuesday.

The boy’s mother, Dominique Lockwood, 29, sobbed as she left the courtroom and collapsed against a hallway wall.

“She didn’t see what I seen,” she said shortly afterward as she wept while waiting with family members for an elevator to take them to the lobby.

“She didn’t see all the blood,” Lockwood said of Mason. “She didn’t bury her child with his eyes open.”

Outside the courthouse, Lockwood told the Daily News she would prefer that the case went to trial rather than have it end in a plea deal.

“I feel as though if it’s a jury, justice will be served,” the mother said. “If she pleads, what is she going to get? A year, two years?”

An arrest warrant was issued for Mason on July 28 after months of gathering evidence and investigation by the police Accident Investigation Division.

The next day, Mason turned herself in to police, accompanied by her attorney. She posted 10 percent of her $75,000 bail on July 30.

Lockwood said of seeing Mason in the courtroom Tuesday: “To me, this is just a smack in the face. They let her out after she got bail. . . . I feel like if she hit a Caucasian child, she wouldn’t be walking around like this.”

Latif – the family calls him by his middle name – was out playing with his two older brothers about 6:30 p.m. April 13, when Lockwood brought him back inside, worried that he was too close to the street, the mother previously told the Daily News.

Somehow, Latif slipped outside, Lockwood has said, and darted out between two parked cars when a black Ford Edge SUV, allegedly driven by Mason, hit him. When the driver sped away, she hit Latif again, police have said.

On Twitter: @julieshawphilly

Published: Philadelphia Daily News