PHILADELPHIA – A man accused of setting fire to a boxer's north Philadelphia home in 2003 after a fight outside a club, killing him and four relatives, has been ordered to stand trial on murder, arson, conspiracy and related charges.
The Philadelphia Inquirer (http://bit.ly/29FqSkY ) reports that a municipal court judge in Philadelphia upheld charges Wednesday against 32-year-old Abdu Rivera in the November 2003 blaze in the Olney neighborhood.
Authorities said boxer John David Santiago had gotten into a fight with Rivera and a couple of his friends outside an Olney club earlier in the evening, but because Santiago was a skilled boxer, he beat two or three of them up. Investigators allege that Rivera and his friends tracked down Santiago's address and used accelerants to set fire to the Olney home later that night, he said.
Santiago, 23, was killed along with his 41-year-old mother, Francisca DeJesus; his 17-year-old brother, Alex; his 17-year-old girlfriend, Clarissa Davila; and their 3-month-old daughter, Jacquelyn Enid Santiago. Three other family members escaped.
John Santiago was a four-time Pennsylvania Golden Gloves state champion, first as a 119-pounder and then in the 125-pound weight class. He scored a second-round knockout in his only professional fight in January 2003.
Capt. James Clark of the police homicide division said in April that the case was "over a bar fight and pride." He said two detectives reopened the case in 2014 and persuaded witnesses to come forward.
One witness testified Wednesday that Rivera said after the fight that "he's going back to take care of it. It isn't going to stay like that," and after the victims' funerals talked about setting the fire and said "they got what they deserved."
Defense attorney Gary Server challenged her credibility and that of another woman who gave a similar account of events, citing criminal records mostly for drug dealing.
Information from: The Philadelphia Inquirer, http://www.inquirer.com