If you Google the name Jabir Kennedy, you will read about a fugitive wanted for gunning down four men, one fatally, during Christmas week 2017 in the Elmwood section of Southwest Philadelphia. You will read that the “armed and dangerous” fugitive turned himself in a week later and was charged with first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder.
That’s all you’ll read about Kennedy, 23, because in a city that typically tallies more than 300 murders and more than 1,000 nonfatal shootings a year, his case quickly disappeared from the news cycle.
So when the case reached its conclusion this month, there were no headlines for what turned out to be a rarity in the criminal justice system: an admitted gunman in a quadruple shooting acquitted by a jury of all charges.
Kennedy’s weeklong trial at the Criminal Justice Center, which ended March 15, focused not on Stand Your Ground or the Castle Doctrine, but instead on old-fashioned self-defense, his lawyer said.
“This was a fascinating case to me. It is truly the first homicide self-defense case that I ever tried,” said David Nenner, a Center City lawyer for 34 years. “It’s rare.”
Kennedy, a former car detailer from Elmwood with no criminal record, rejected a plea deal from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office that would have sent him to state prison for 17½ to 34 years. He said he opted to put his fate in the hands of a jury because he believed testifying about what happened that night in the 6600 block of Dorel Street in Elmwood, where he lived, would set him free.