The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania stayed the April 23, 2013, Pennsylvania execution of
Borgela Philistin, Jr. March 1, 2013
Borgela Philistin, Jr., also known as Bortela Philisten, is scheduled to be executed at 7 pm EDT, on April 23, 2013, at the State Correctional Institution at Rockview, in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. Thirty-nine-year-old Bortela is convicted of killing Philadelphia Police Officer Robert Hayes. Bortela has spent the past 18 years on death row.
According to court records, Philadelphia Police Officers Robert Hayes
and John Marynowitz made a routine traffic stop on June 16, 1993. The vehicle was a taxi and Philistin was the passenger. As the police approached the vehicle, Philistin emerged from it and went after one of the police’s guns. Philistin was able to grab a gun and started shooting. Robert was shot in the head and abdomen. He died from his wounds. John was shot in the back and head. John survived, although he is now a paraplegic.
Philistin ran from the scene as other police officers began to pull up. He was arrested a short while later. Near where he was arrested, police found a bag of cocaine. Police allege that Philistin was a drug dealer.
Gunpowder residue was found on Philistin’s hands. Blood on his clothing matched the blood of the wounded police officers.
Philistin confessed to crime. This confession was used during his trial. Also in the confession, Philistin admits that he was in the process of delivering cocaine. There were also various eyewitnesses.
The Haiti Progres tells a different story. According to them, Philistin was a student who worked nights and lived with his aunt. He
said, “I had with me a ‘doggy bag’ of food which…I intended to share with my aunt.” As the police approached the taxi, Philistin explains what happened next. “Carefully, I raised my hands in the air as they demanded. The bag of food lay on the floor of the cab at my feet. One of the policemen, yelling, asked me what was in the bag. I answered that if was food and bent down to show him the contents when he hit me with his metal flashlight. The blow hit me in the mouth and broke two of my teeth. The policeman then grabbed me and pulled me out of the car through the window. The two policemen then began furiously beating me. I was afraid, I had a bloody mouth, and I was suffering a great deal. When one of the policemen pointed his revolver at me and yelled that he was going to kill me on the spot, I thought I was going to die. I began to fight for my life.”
Philistin, who is from Haiti, does not deny shooting the officers but claims it was self-defense. The Haiti Progres goes on to allege that Philistin had ineffective counsel who never considered Philistin’s story, and that Philistin’s lawyer failed to notify the Haitian Consulate.
Borgela Philistin will likely be given a stay of execution, as he has not completed all of his appeals.