Charges upgraded in death of worker

Philadelphia Inquirer
In a courtroom less than a mile from the tire shop where he allegedly fired shots that killed his boss last month, Ken Kim stood before a judge yesterday and was arraigned on a charge of first-degree murder.

Asked whether he understood the charge, Kim, a Cambodian immigrant who lives on North Mascher Street in Philadelphia’s Olney section, shook his head.

District Judge Leonard Brown then read the probable-cause affidavit in detail, explaining that the main charge had been upgraded from attempted murder to first-degree murder after store manager Joseph Phillips died Saturday.

Brown denied bail based on the upgraded charge but said Kim’s attorney, Michael Diamondstein, who did not attend the arraignment, could petition Bucks County Common Pleas Court for bail.

Kim is also charged with aggravated assault and related offenses.

Kim, who had bandaged right foot, hobbled on crutches from the courtroom, his coat pulled up to cover his face. He was taken back to the Bucks County Correctional Facility, where he has been held on $8 million cash bail since the Dec. 12 shooting.

Contacted by phone yesterday, Diamondstein said he did not anticipate filing a bail-reduction motion because there appeared to be no chance bail would be set in an amount that Kim’s family could afford.

“There is a lot more to this case than meets the eye,” Diamondstein said. “I can’t really talk about the facts” of the case.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Jan. 29.

Outside the court, Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen A. Diaz said she was not seeking the death penalty.

“We will still be looking at that, but right now there are no factors or evidence” to support it, Diaz said.

Phillips, 39, of Ridley Park, Delaware County, managed the Firestone store at Street and Hulmeville Roads.

Prosecutors do not know why Phillips was shot. They allege that Kim arrived at work in a bad mood on Dec. 12. That morning, authorities said, Phillips reprimanded Kim for doing a poor job of putting tires on a customer’s car and asking him to go home for the day.

Authorities say Kim went to his Dodge Durango pickup, returned with a .380-caliber handgun, and fired at Phillips, hitting him twice in the chest. Kim drove off but was arrested after Bensalem police pursued him and his truck slammed into a tree on Mechanicsville Road. Kim suffered a broken ankle.

Phillips was put on life support until Dec. 30, when he was transferred to a hospice Authorities said he was taken off life support and died Saturday.

According to the police affidavit, the Delaware County Medical Examiner’s Office determined that Phillips died as a result of his gunshot wounds.

Viewings for Phillips will be held form 7 to 9 p.m. tomorrow and 9 to 10 a.m. Saturday at White-Luttrell Funeral Home, 311 N. Swarthmore Ave., Ridley Park. The funeral is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at the funeral home.

By: Staff Writer