Several members of Kaseem Lawson-Gregg’s family left District Magistrate Juanita Price’s courtroom in tears yesterday following a preliminary hearing. The reason? All charges against Lawson-Gregg — aggravated assault, conspiracy to commit aggravated assault, and attempted murder — were held for court. And a motion to reduce bail was denied; it remains $500,000.
Lawson-Gregg, 20, of the 700 block of East Upsal Street, Philadelphia, was of a man in the Rydal Park retirement community parking lot. The victim, who works as a cook at the retirement community, was stabbed six times following his shift.
According to the victim, Lawson-Gregg and an unidentified man approached the vehicle in which he was a passenger at about 8:15 p.m. on Feb. 15. The victim said Lawson-Gregg tapped on the passenger-side window; the unidentified man stood behind Lawson-Gregg.
“He said, ‘What happened with my girlfriend?’ or something like that,” the victim said on the stand. ‘Do you have a problem with my girl? Why did you call her a [expletive?]’”
The victim said he had gotten into an altercation with Lawson-Gregg’s girlfriend, Shayna McCrae, with whom he works, about a week prior to the stabbing. The altercation resulted in the victim being suspended from work for three days.
Shayna McCrae is a co-defendant in the case, but she obtained last-minute private legal counsel, according to Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney John Walko. McCrae’s preliminary trial will likely be held in April, Walko said, and the two cases will be merged. McCrae is charged with aggravated assault and conspiracy to commit aggravated assault.
On the stand, the victim said he didn’t call McCrae an expletive, but rather “a heifer.”
The victim exited the vehicle and started arguing with Lawson-Gregg and then the unidentified man swung at the victim.
Following a scuffle, which included McCrae, the fight broke up, according to the victim, and both parties went their separate ways — until the victim said, “I bet you didn’t expect that from a small [expletive.]”
After that remark, the victim said McCrae confronted him; he then “mugged” McCrae by pushing her away by her face, at which point he said Lawson-Gregg stabbed him.
“I didn’t know what to think … it didn’t register in my mind at first,” the victim testified. “I yelled, ‘They’re cutting me, they got a knife, they got a knife, somebody get help.”
Walko asked the victim to show his wounds to the court; defense attorney Joseph Green II objected, saying it was prejudicial, but the objection was overruled.
The victim lifted his shirt and revealed several pieces of gauze all over his body, as well as several fresh silver staples placed in a vertical line near his belly button.
Abington Detective Robert Wilsbach, a witness, reading from the affidavit, said that the victim was stabbed in the:
- right scapula
- mid back, which cut an artery and required a ligation
- left lower abdomen
- left anterior chest wall, which caused a hemothorax
- right thoracotomy, which caused a pneumothorax
- right knee
The victim was in surgery for six hours and lost a liter of blood during surgery, according Wilsbach, who said he spoke with Abington Memorial Hospital health professionals regarding the victim’s injuries.
Defense attorney Green argued unsuccessfully to drop the attempted murder charges, saying that his client did not brandish a weapon when he approached the vehicle, and added that the weapon was not brought into play until the victim touched his client’s girlfriend.
Green did say that he “had no problem” with the aggravated assault charges.
Walko said the case was not a self-defense, and said all inferences of attempted murder should be in favor of the commonwealth.
Finally, the defendant’s attorney attempted to lower bail from $500,000 to a “reasonable amount.” Green asked for a bail amount between $75,000 and $100,000. He pointed to 14 of the defendant’s family members who were sitting in the courtroom and said the defendant was remorseful, and that the defendant had a “host of” family members who would make sure the defendant would appear in court; he added that Lawson-Gregg had been living in the same location in the city, his entire life.
The bail decrease motion was denied, and bail remained at $500,000.
Following the trial Walko said he didn’t think Lawson-Gregg looked like he was full of remorse.
“The first opportunity to show remorse is to waive the preliminary hearing,” Walko said, “and not have the victim relive the horrible event again in the courtroom.”
Lawson-Gregg will be formally arraigned April 11 at the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas.