Strawberry Mansion man guilty of armed robberies that left 4 seriously wounded

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A Strawberry Mansion man was found guilty by a Philadelphia jury Friday of being the armed robber who shot and wounded four people in the summer of 2015 after they had surrendered their valuables.

Amin “Mac” Ackridge, 31, whom investigators dubbed the “ruthless robber” because of his signature of gratuitous violence, was found guilty of attempted murder and conspiracy and multiple counts of assault, robbery, and gun crimes.

Ackridge, a heroin addict who pleaded guilty to a 2013 robbery and was sentenced to three to 23 months in prison and two years’ probation, did not react to the verdict.

Common Pleas Court Judge Charles A. Ehrlich scheduled sentencing for July 17 and Assistant District Attorneys Jason Grenell and Christopher Taylor said they would ask for the equivalent of a life sentence.

“For the victims in the case, every single one was really invested in this,” said Grenell. “These robberies really impacted all of their lives.”

Defense attorney Shawn Kendricks Page Sr., who argued that witnesses had mistakenly identified Ackridge as the gunman, declined to comment after the verdict.

The jury of nine women and three men heard seven days of often emotional testimony from the victims before beginning deliberations Thursday afternoon. The jurors returned guilty verdicts on all charges after about 10 hours of work.

Authorities said that Ackridge was part of a two-man team that committed four robberies in June and July 2015, three in Kensington and one in North Philadelphia.

In each case, a car approached and pulled ahead of the victim. A gunman got out of the car, robbed and then shot the victim, before fleeing in the waiting car.

All the shooting victims were seriously wounded. Robert T. Gotwalt, who tried to intervene in the robbery of two men on June 7, 2015, at Gransback and Clearfield Streets, was left paralyzed from the waist down.

A week after a man was shot twice in the back in a July 21, 2015, robbery at Emerald and Clementine Streets, police in Center City stopped a car. Behind the wheel was Frank Oliver III, 27, then a judicial aide in the city’s Criminal Justice Center — and the grandson of retired West Philadelphia Democratic state representative and ward leader Frank L. Oliver.

Under Oliver’s car seat was a 9mm semiautomatic pistol for which he did not have a license. Police ballisticians checked and found the 9mm matched the ejected cartridge casings found at the scene of the robberies.

Prosecutors said that police detectives at first thought Oliver was the shooter but that the robbery victims and witnesses all said Oliver was too overweight to have been the gunman.

Detectives then began looking at Oliver’s cellphone records and noticed that on the days of the robberies he called Ackridge and that their cellphones often “pinged” off cell towers near the robbery scenes.

Ackridge was arrested Aug. 12, 2015, in Wilmington, Del., after a police officer saw him get out of a car with a gun in his hand and approach another man. Ackridge fled when the officer told him to halt, but was caught a short time later.

After Ackridge was returned to Philadelphia, the case against him and Oliver went before an investigating grand jury, which recommended charges against both last year.

Oliver pleaded guilty to robbery, assault, and gun charges last year and testified for prosecutors at Ackridge’s trial. Ackridge is to be sentenced May 8.

A spokesman for the Philadelphia court system confirmed that Oliver was a court employee from July 14, 2014, until May 28, 2015, but said he could not disclose which judge he worked for.

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