Court of Common Pleas Judge Barbara McDermott has sentenced Mark Lee-Purvis, 36, of South Philadelphia to five to twelve years in prison. Purvis was found guilty of witness retaliation, witness intimidation, and terroristic threats. Prosecutors allege that Purvis used his Facebook page to post threats against a witness stemming from a 2004 illegal firearms transaction.
District Attorney Seth Williams said Purvis posted a photograph of a witness who was expected to testify against him. The photo had the word "RAT" written on it. He posted additional information about the witness' location and the location of his pregnant girlfriend, urging his friend to “bring the rat outta hiding.” Allegedly, Purvis’ Facebook page listed threats against several police officers, judges and even defense attorneys.
“I applaud ADA Andrei Govorov for his successful prosecution of this case,” Williams said.”This thug will now have plenty of time to think about his cowardice. I also want to commend Judge McDermott. Her lengthy sentence in this case sends a strong message to criminals that we will not tolerate witness intimidation in Philadelphia.”
Arrest in Unrelated Facebook Intimidation Case
The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and Attorney General's Gun Violence Task Force arrested 20-year-old Freddie Henriquez of Kensington on Monday, December 17 for allegedly threatening a witness in November. The defendant has been charged with witness retaliation, witness intimidation, and terroristic threats. Four of Henriquez's associates were also charged in February as part of a conspiracy to straw purchase numerous firearms. Henriquez allegedly obtained a witness statement and posted photos of it on his Facebook page with captions like ‘RATS.' Elsewhere on his page, he allegedly instructed readers to ‘KILL ALL RATS.’ He is being held on $250,000 bail. Four of the defendant’s friends were also arrested in the February straw purchasing case. They have been identified as 19-year-old Christian Maldonado, 23-year-old Jeffrey Maldonado, 19-year-old Qumere Jenkins, and 22-year-old Anthony Espinosa. Jenkins pleaded guilty in October and was sentenced to 9 to 23 months in prison. An associate of Henriquez, David Ruiz, remains at large.
Arrest in Homicide Case
On Monday, June 11, 2012, at approximately 12:56 AM, police officers responded to a radio call for a person with a gun on the 2200 block of North Colorado Street. When officers arrived at the scene they found a man dying from a single gunshot wound to the back. He was identified as William Mack, 21, from the 2600 block of West Somerset Street. Mack was rushed to Temple Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 9:07 a.m. Through the course of the investigation detectives identified a suspect, identified as William Wharton, 27, from the 2000 block of North 24th Street.
On Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, at approximately 7:35 a.m., the fugitive was arrested at his residence and charged in connection with murder and related offenses.