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DA Exploring Death Penalty Option for Accused Murderer/Arsonist

A Levittown man has been charged with two felony counts of criminal homicide, one count of criminal homicide and two felony counts of arson.

Marcel Johnson is led into the district courthouse Friday afternoon. Photo by James Boyle
Marcel Johnson is led into the district courthouse Friday afternoon. Photo by James Boyle
Bucks County Assistant District Attorney David Weintraub told reporters Friday afternoon that the death penalty is on the table for the man accused of murdering a 22-year pregnant woman and her 4-year-old daughter, then setting their apartment on fire to destroy evidence.

Marcel Johnson, 21, of Levittown has been charged with two felony counts of criminal homicide of Ebony Talley and her four-year-old daughter R'Mani Rankins, one count of criminal homicide of Talley's unborn child and two felony counts of arson. He appeared before District Judge Joanne Kline Friday afternoon for his arraignment.

Kline refused to set bail for Johnson, saying the seriousness of the crimes prevented her. Johnson can make an appeal for bail before the Court of Common Pleas. Johnson's preliminary arraignment has been tentatively scheduled for Jan. 21. Bucks County prosecutors have until his formal arraignment in Doylestown to show the case meets the standards for capital punishment.

According to court documents, emergency officials responded to reports of a fire on the first floor in building 600 at Avalon Court Apartments on Bristol-Oxford Valley Road at approximately 3:30 p.m. on Nov. 25. A Bristol Township police officer was the first to arrive at the scene and was unable to enter the common hallway on the basement floor because of heavy smoke.

Firefighters from Newportville, William Penn Fire Company and the Bristol Township Fire Marshal's office managed to make their way to the apartment and to the rear bedroom, where they extinguished a burning bed and pile of clothes, according to the affidavit.

After dousing the flames, firefighters found Talley's deceased body and the lifeless body of R'Mani, who was rushed to St, Mary Medical Center and pronounced dead at approximately 4:30 p.m. An autopsy performed by Dr. Ian Hood at the Bucks County Forensic Facility in Warminster on Nov. 26 confirmed that Talley was five months pregnant with a male child the report says. The investigation also showed that Talley suffered multiple stab wounds and was briefly suffocated before she died. R'Mani was killed by a single stab wound to her chest, according to the autopsy.

As detectives investigated the scene, police discovered at the Levittown Trace Apartments a maroon Cadillac that a witness saw speeding out of the Avalon Court Apartment complex minutes after the first responders arrived, according to the criminal complaint.

Police say that Johnson was later seen getting into the vehicle at approximately 7 p.m. on Nov. 25. Officers placed Johnson into custody and questioned him at the Bristol Township police station. According to court documents, Johnson admitted to being at Avalon Court Apartment and being with Talley and R'Mani prior to their deaths.

Police say that detectives collected DNA from Johnson's fingernails and sent the scrapings to the Pennsylvania State Police Labaoratory for analysis. The analysis showed that the DNA belonged to Talley, according to the affidavit.

Johnson was arraigned on minor drug charges the following morning and remanded to the Bucks County Correctional Facility. Police say that a confidential informant, an inmate at the prison, told officers that Johnson admitted to killing Talley and R'Mani, saying "Ebony made me kill her" and that R'Mani was "real smart" and could identify him.
chris blocke January 11, 2014 at 08:21 PM
kill this highly rhythmic piece of shit.

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