By The Vanguard
PHILADELPHIA, PA – The 2012 murder conviction of Donta Regustors for the 2010 fatal shooting of Johnathan Wilson, who was the unintended victim of an early-morning shootout, was vacated Friday because of the actions of a former Philly police officer.
The district attorney here said the action was “yet another wrongful conviction tainted by the misconduct of former Philadelphia Police Department homicide detective Philip Nordo.”
“Nordo investigated the Aug. 28, 2010, shooting near 26th and West Silver streets, and obtained statements from two individuals who claimed they were the intended targets, and identified Regusters as the assailant. But under oath at trial, both recanted their prior statements to Nordo, explaining that they were not true and were the product of secret promises,” said the DA’s office.
“One witness testified that Nordo promised he would avoid prosecution for shooting his unlawfully possessed firearm during the incident. The other testified Nordo promised to get him out of a state drug treatment facility, and bizarrely to ‘set me up with a security job’ despite his prior armed robbery conviction,” added the DA.
The current DA’s office added, “Prosecutors convicted Regusters and obtained a life sentence by relying heavily on the testimony and credibility of Nordo, who denied making promises or threats to obtain statements from the two witnesses. Both Philadelphia Police and the District Attorney’s Office knew of Nordo’s crimes of sexual violence in 2005, but he was not prosecuted until 2019.”
Nordo is currently serving a 24 and one-half year to 49-year sentence for a 2022 conviction for Rape, Sexual Assault, Official Oppression and other offenses.
Philly District Attorney Larry Krasner ordered the Conviction Integrity Unit to conduct a comprehensive review of convictions tied to Nordo, said a statement by the DA, and the CIU obtained “court-authorization to disclose recently developed secret grand jury transcripts to Regustor’s appellate lawyer, which corroborated the misconduct described by the witnesses in Reguster’s 2012 jury trial.”
The DA reported this “included testimony from an individual that Nordo victimized, who described similar coercive and inappropriate promises of a job and other assistance leading up to his sexual exploitation.”
“Following a thorough and comprehensive investigation by the Conviction Integrity Unit, the court today delivered a fair and appropriate response to Mr. Regustor’s petition – which was to vacate his conviction and grant the Commonwealth’s motion to dismiss all charges related to this tragic event,” Conviction Integrity Unit Supervisor Michael Garmisa said.
Garmisa added, “Philip Nordo’s misconduct and violent crimes – which went unchecked for too long by police and prosecutors – is responsible for retraumatizing a grieving family and for violating a criminal defendant’s constitutional rights. This case – along with the other overturned convictions tied to Detective Nordo – underscore the urgency of meaningful accountability within police departments and prosecutor’s offices.”
The DA’s office said, “CIU review of nearly 90 Nordo convictions has produced eight exonerations and three resentencings, with new trials pending for two defendants and judicial decisions pending for two co-defendants who the CIU has argued are entitled to new trials.”