This morning in room 306 of the Municipal Court of Philadelphia, 36-year-old Randolph Sanders waited for his preliminary hearing in the Jan. 13 murder of co-worker Kim Jones, for which he’s been charged. Sanders’ hearing was to be the seventh of the day; instead, he was brought up second, on a day when many such hearings were held.
The bench-style seating separated from the base of the courtroom by glass walls and locked doors was filled with spectators, some dressed in shirts bearing photos of Kim Jones. As a police officer escorted Sanders into the courtroom, about half of the spectators waved.
How preliminary hearings work
A preliminary hearing is where the judge, in this case Judge Patrick F. Dugan, decides if the state has enough evidence to show that a jury could hear the case. If there isn’t enough evidence for a trial, some — or all — charges could dismissed.
Today, Sanders’ lawyer Michael Coard decided to waive the hearing, basically stipulating that the Commonwealth has enough evidence for all the charges against Sanders, including murder of the first degree.
“Instead of taking the family of the victim through this tragedy,” Coard told Billy Penn, “we decided that we would just deal with this case later at the trial stage.”
Assistant District Attorney Mark Levenberg for the Commonwealth Court of Philadelphia believes that “[Sanders’] waiver demonstrates that there is evidence to go forward towards trial and we’ll be ready.”
Why do hearings get waived?
There are many reasons to decide to waive the hearing and avoid it all together. The defendant could be be attempting to dodge witnesses and evidence that may not be available by the time the trial rolls around, preventing them from ever being used; or the defendant may intend to plead guilty (Sanders has already confessed to Jones’s murder) and this is his or her way to avoid the media attention.
Jones, 56, was shot execution-style while she waited for a bus at 12th and Jefferson streets on the morning of Jan. 13. Jones was Sanders’ supervisor at the nonprofit Turning Points for Children, where Sanders was allegedly embezzling money from the organization. Sanders was brought in for questioning after surveillance showed him getting into his truck after taking the Broad Street Line to Hunting Park following the attack. He is currently facing charges for murder, carrying firearms without a license and possession of an instrument of crime with intent.
Before his Feb. 1 arrest, Channel 6 interviewed Sanders following the shooting of Jones where he stated, “We’re all just stunned.” Huh.
After a preliminary hearing is waived, the case proceeds to jury selection and trial. Sanders has been held on all charges. His formal arraignment and trial is currently scheduled for March 11 at 11 a.m., but that could easily get pushed back.
Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Police