3 skinheads held for trial in attack
By JULIE SHAW
Philadelphia Daily News
Three men - who police and civilian investigators say are members of a group called the Keystone State Skinheads - were held for trial yesterday on weapons, conspiracy, simple-assault and related charges in connection with a beating last Memorial Day weekend of another man believed to have neo-Nazi ties.
Keith Carney, 26, and Andrew Boyle, 28, both of Northeast Philadelphia, and Douglas Caffarella, 26, of South Philadelphia, are accused of conspiring with a fourth man, Vincent A. DeFelice, in the May 26, 2007, beating of Eric Dottaviano on 17th Street near Shunk, South Philadelphia.
Municipal Judge Nazario Jimenez Jr. held Carney, Boyle and Caffarella on most charges, but dismissed an aggravated-assault charge based on lack of evidence.
A preliminary hearing for DeFelice, who is in custody in New Jersey, was postponed to June 20.
A police source said yesterday that Dottaviano had been beaten because he allegedly broke a Keystone State Skinheads' rule - "something petty," the source said - for getting a "type of tattoo not in accordance with KSS."
The source said Carney, Boyle, and Caffarella are KSS members and also believed that the victim, Dottaviano, was a member.
However, Daryle Lamont Jenkins, 39, an activist with the watchdog group One People's Project, which monitors right-wing groups, said after the hearing that Dottaviano was just a "hanger-on," and not a KSS member. Jenkins confirmed that the three defendants in court yesterday are KSS members.
"They really don't like him," Jenkins said, but added that "he [Dottaviano] is a neo-Nazi."
Jenkins called Carney "the most prominent [KSS member] in this area."
It is not clear if DeFelice, 26, is a member.
In a recent study, the Southern Poverty Law Center listed the Keystone State Skinheads as one of Pennsylvania's active hate groups and labeled it "racist skinhead." The Harrisburg-based KSS also has members in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Altoona, Bethlehem, State College, Wilkes-Barre and Greensburg.
FBI Special Agent J.J. Klaver, a Philadelphia spokesman, said yesterday "the FBI recognizes the KSS as a domestic terrorist group."
During yesterday's preliminary hearing, Police Officer Clinton Cunningham testified that about 2:15 a.m. May 26, he was at 17th and Porter streets when he heard "yelling and screaming."
He drove a block south to Shunk Street, where he saw Caffarella, Boyle and DeFelice "standing over, punching and kicking" Dottaviano.
"Caffarella had a handgun in his hand and was pointing it down toward" the victim as he was trying to get up, Cunningham testified.
After one of the defendants saw him, Cunningham said, all three ran to a nearby gold Dodge Avenger, driven by Carney, who "took off at a high rate of speed."
Cunningham said he called for a rescue vehicle to help the victim, whose "face was covered with blood." He then pursued the Dodge around the block to 18th Street near Shunk.
With the assistance of other officers who rushed to the scene, police arrested the four men and confiscated a .380-semiautomatic handgun from Caffarella's waistband, Cunningham said.
He said Officer Joseph Cosgrove confiscated a set of brass knuckles from DeFelice, who was in the front passenger seat and had them in his "lap area."
The Dodge, with a Delaware license plate, was later determined to be Boyle's, Cunningham said. (Court records show Boyle has lived in Delaware.)
Under cross-examination by defense attorney Joseph Santaguida, who represents Caffarella, Cunningham said he later found out that Caffarella's permit to carry a gun had been revoked.
Dottaviano, now 34, was not in court. Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Kotchian would say afterward only that she "had contact with his family, and he's not able to be in court today."
Santaguida said he does not know if Caffarella is a KSS member. He called the "scuffle" an "argument with friends."
Defense attorney J. Michael Farrell, who represents Carney, Boyle and DeFelice, would not comment on whether any of his clients are KSS members.
Carney, Boyle and Caffarella, who are all out on bail, were told by their attorneys to keep quiet.
In court, Santaguida and Farrell asked the judge to dismiss the aggravated-assault charge and other offenses.
"Without a complainant, I think they [prosecutors] insult the court's intelligence," Santaguida said. "We don't know if it was an aggravated assault. We don't know how it started. We don't know who started it."
He also argued that simply pointing a gun is simple assault.
The judge agreed, saying that by case law, just pointing a gun is simple assault. He also noted the absence of the victim in dismissing the aggravated-assault charge.
Kotchian had argued for the defendants to be held on all charges.
After the hearing, Officers Cunningham and Cosgrove couldn't believe that the aggravated-assault charge had been discharged.
"You're beating someone on the ground and you point the gun at them," Cosgrove said. "My belief is if Officer Cunningham didn't respond, it would have been a shooting instead of a beating. In my opinion, he saved the complainant's life." *