Kevin Battista's first visit to the Bloomsdale-Fleetwing section of Bristol Township on Thursday, December 7, 2006 was his last.
The Apricot Lane resident and father of two was shot and killed during a robbery attempt shortly after 2 a.m.
On Monday, Bristol Township police and county prosecutors announced they had filed an arrest warrant on charges of murder, robbery and related offenses for 24-year-old Ckaron Handy. The Philadelphia man is suspected of being the triggerman in the early morning 2006 shooting is already in federal custody related to a Bloomsdale shots fired incident that happened in 2011.
A lack of cooperation from witnesses who saw the crime and several other factors lead to the delay in issuing a warrant for Handy’s arrest in connection with the murder, Bucks County prosecutor Jennifer Schorn said. In an effort to compel some witnesses to speak, the case went to a grand jury.
“I can’t get into specific details, but there is a reason why we were unable to charge [Handy] until now,” Schorn told the media Monday morning.
Handy was known to Bristol officers prior to the 2006 murder and has been in and out of jail since the crime, authorities said.
Battista, who was 30 at the time of his murder, was driving around Bristol township with a 21-year-old neighbor when he thought he saw Danielle Frenier, his girlfriend and the mother of his children, driving past his red Ford F-150 Supercab pickup truck on southbound Route 13. He thought she headed into the Bloomsdale section of the township and began asking residents if they saw her, the criminal complaint stated.
Battista then decided to score some drugs. District Attorney David Heckler said Battista was a “recreational” drug user and not an addict.
Heckler described Battista as "a hard-working union member who made a real bad choice on that evening to go into an area where he had not been before.”
After driving around Bloomsdale, Battista spotted a group of men at the intersection of Mustang and Aieracobra streets and asked for $60 worth of drugs.
Two of the men approached. Handy is then alleged to have pulled a gun and said, “Give me the money,” according the affidavit.
Next, Battista pulled out $60 in cash and held it up. Handy, who was said by witness to be wearing a fur-lined jacket, asked if the Battista was “kidding” and began counting to three. The 30-year-old put his car in drive and slowly took his foot off the brake pedal.
Police said in the affidavit, at that moment, Handy pulled the trigger of his .22 caliber revolver. The 21-year-old passenger described the gun as an “old movie pistol.”
Three shots were fired; one hit Battista in the back, Heckler said. The victim then lost control of his truck and struck several parked cars on Fleetwing Drive.
In the affidavit, witnesses described seeing Battista with his head on the steering wheel horn. Battista, choking on his own blood, then slumped over onto the 21-year-old passenger in the moments after the crash.
Bristol police arrived to find Battista with a slight pulse and began working to save the man’s life as an ambulance unit raced to the scene. By 3:14 a.m., Battista was pronounced dead by doctors at Frankford-Torresdale Hospital.
During an autopsy, a disfigured .22 caliber bullet was discovered in the victim’s body. The coroner’s report said Battista died from a single gunshot wound and ruled the death a homicide.
“He was a fish out of water,” Schorn said of the union machinist’s visit to the trouble neighborhood.
“Individuals were initially reluctant to deal with Mr. Battista and suspected he may have been a narcotic officer,” Heckler said. Battista raised suspicions when he said he had $60 for powdered cocaine and not the neighborhood’s usual drug of sale - crack cocaine.
Prosecutors and police said they talked to several witnesses and expect them to testify at Handy's trial.
Others who are suspected of being involved in the robbery are still be investigated, township detective Tim Fuhrmann said.
Bristol Township Chief of Police James McAndrew said the fact that Handy was willing to shoot someone he believed to be law enforcement officer emphasized how dangerous police work is.
Battista’s murder was one of several violent crimes that occurred in the Bloomsdale neighborhood in 2006 and 2007.
In the early part of 2012, police arrested Michael “Pooh” Brooks, 27, of Willingboro, N.J., and charged him with the murder of 33-year-old Bristol resident Daniel Buchanan, PhillyBurbs.com reports. Brooks and his brother both testified in the Handy grand jury, Heckler confirmed.
The murder of Jimmy Dennis Moore, 19, of Bristol Township, still remains unsolved, the website reports.
Recently, crime in the Bloomsdale section has decreased dramatically, authorities told Patch.
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