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What we know: Shooting death of Baby Marcus, alleged confession and impact on different case

PITTSBURGH — A woman just learned that somebody allegedly confession of the murder of her 1-year-old son, Marcus White, Jr., two years ago -- and now she’s demanding justice.

White Jr., known as Baby Marcus, was shot and killed in Pittsburgh’s East Hills neighborhood in 2013.

According to prosecutors, the alleged confession came nearly two years ago from a man who is a potential key witness in another trial that is set to start Monday. It’s involves the 2016 ambush shooting in Wilkinsburg in which five people and an unborn baby were killed during a backyard barbecue.

Prosecutors said he has provided information on 13 different criminal cases.

He has only been identified as Witness No. 3.

Here’s what we know right now and how this impacted the Wilkinsburg shooting case:

May 2013

Baby Marcus was killed in a shooting during a picnic at a home in Pittsburgh’s East Hills neighborhood.

Investigators said the gunfire came from three men who got out of a car and started shooting at the crowd. Detectives said they don’t believe the victims were the intended targets.

February 2014

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto declared Feb. 19 Marcus White Jr. Day in hopes that someone with information would come forward.

"We know that there is someone out there who knows who killed this baby, and there’s other people in the community who know it as well,” Peduto said during a Justice for Baby Marcus rally. “We need them to come together with our bureau of police so we can put this person in jail.

March 2018

Witness No. 3 allegedly confesses to killing Baby Marcus while being questioned by Allegheny County police for a different crime.

Jan. 24, 2020

The alleged confession was revealed during a court testimony in a separate case. This is also when Baby Marcus’ mother, Jameela Tyler, found out through social media that a man allegedly admitted to murdering her son.

Jan. 30, 2020

Tyler is now demanding justice for Baby Marcus after finding out about the alleged confession.

The family and their attorney will be holding a press conference at 4 p.m.

Paul Jubas, Tyler’s attorney, claims the district attorney’s office has decided not to charge the man for Baby Marcus’ murder because it intends to use the man as “a cooperating witness in other cases.”

Jubas is calling for charges to be filed in White’s death, as well as the resignation of District Attorney Stephen Zappala.

Ahead of the news conference, the Allegheny County District Attorney’s office also released the following statement on Thursday:

"In 2013, in the East Hills neighborhood of Pittsburgh, a vehicle containing four persons drove up on an apartment complex and fired multiple shots into a crowd in the common area of the apartments, killing 15-month-old Marcus White Jr.

Understandably, any death of a child resulting from violence motivates both law enforcement and the community to search for answers. However, our office cannot file charges until such time as evidence exists to sustain and prove those charges beyond a reasonable doubt.

Appropriately, an Allegheny County investigating grand jury was employed as an effective way to coordinate information concerning multiple instances of violent crime, including homicides, connected to specific groups of individuals in the City of Pittsburgh. This approach has thus far resulted in numerous arrests for acts of violence, homicide and otherwise, and the work of law enforcement in this effort is ongoing.

The assumed work product of the grand jury as it pertains to the death of Marcus White Jr. and other violent crimes is protected by confidentiality. Consequently, the rules and statutes governing that confidentiality prohibit a more specific response.

To make a statement that law enforcement is not absolutely and unconditionally dedicated to combating violence of any kind and anywhere in the City of Pittsburgh and throughout Allegheny County is insulting to the men and women charged with protecting our community each day."

The Allegheny County Police Department also released a statement:

"We are under a gag order in regard to the Wilkinsburg case you referenced. But we can state with absolute certainty that if information concerning the death of Marcus White came to the attention of the Allegheny County Police, we would have referred it to Pittsburgh Bureau of Police investigators.

I believe the District Attorney’s Office just issued a statement in regard to the Marcus White homicide. Their statement accurately addresses the complexities involved in the investigation, prosecution and release of information related to violent criminal activities in Allegheny County."

How this impacted the Wilkinsburg shooting case

Witness No. 3 was considered a key witness for the prosecution against Robert Thomas, one of the men charged in the Wilkinsburg shooting. No. 3 had information on Thomas and the shooting from when both were in jail together.

Defense attorneys filed a motion to prevent the witness from testifying since details on his alleged confession of killing Baby Marcus just came out.

Based on discovery, defense attorney Randall McKinney estimates 80 percent of the prosecution’s case against Thomas stems from Witness No. 3.

All of the charges against Thomas were dismissed by a judge minutes before the trial was scheduled to start after it was determined Witness No. 3 was not credible.

Following the dismissal of charges in the case, the DA’s office sent Channel 11 another statement:

“The Judge made it clear in his remarks this morning that in the absence of community support for police investigations, it is extremely difficult to solve, charge and prosecute certain crimes. Since 2015, this office has prosecuted 16 cases of child abuse that resulted in a death and 15 of those prosecutions resulted in either a guilty verdict or a guilty plea. If, in fact, there was evidence of any kind that would allow us to sustain our burden of proof in connection with the death of Marcus White Jr. that prosecution would have already taken place.”

Robert Thomas is one of two men charged in the mass shooting in Wilkinsburg that killed 5 adults and an uborn child. (Photo: Allegheny County Jail)

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