Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Reddice acquitted in killing of drug dealer

Theodore Reddice

A Northampton County jury this afternoon acquitted Theodore Reddice of all charges filed in the killing of South Bethlehem drug dealer Luis Cruz more than two years ago in a building described as a crack house.

Reddice, 35, a native of Rhode Island who was living in the 500 block of Cherokee Street on April 26, 2006, the day 34-year-old Cruz was shot to death execution style, could have faced the death penalty if the jury convicted him of first-degree murder. He was also acquitted of the other charge against him, second-degree murder.

After the verdict was read, members of Reddice's family started to scream, and Judge Anthony S. Beltrami ordered them out of the courtroom. While in the hallway, they continued screaming and county sheriffs escorted them outside the courthouse in Easton.

Reddice did not testify, but Bethlehem police Detective Sgt. Mark DiLuzio told the jury that Reddice in an interview acknowledged he had been in the rooming house at 409 Wyandotte St. shortly before the killing.

Otelia Duffy, who said she knew Reddice as "Mike" and had bought crack cocaine from him several times, testified Reddice came to the rooming house minutes before the killing and asked her to point out Cruz's room. Duffy said Cruz left the building but came back immediately with two other men. Duffy recounted that she heard a scuffle and gunshots, then the sound of people leaving the building.

About 15 minutes later, Duffy said, she went to Cruz's room and saw Cruz's father, Rogelio Cruz, holding his dead son in his arms.

Police charged a second man, Stephen K. Rivers, 27, who was living in Fountain Hill and Allentown at the time, but he was never taken into custody. Instead, he was found shot to death about two months later in Bristol Township, Bucks County. His killer, police said, was Phillip Everson, 29, of Newark, N.J., who was found slain in Trenton, N.J., less than 24 hours after Rivers' body was located.

Reddice told police he had gone to Cruz's room early on the day of killing to buy heroin but left when Cruz said he had none. As he was leaving the rooming house, Reddice said, he saw three men coming into the building.

-- Reporting by Tyra Braden, The Morning Call

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