McManus and Smith held for trial in Shane Kelly shooting death

Ryan McManus and Richard Smith were held for trial today in the November 2011 murder of Shane Kelly after a dramatic preliminary hearing.

A packed courtroom heard emotional testimony from Shane’s girlfriend, Mary Elise Doyne. She said the couple was walking home from a bar around 12:25 a.m. when, at Berks and Thompson streets, two men passed them, then turned around and announced a robbery.

“They told us to give them everything we had, to empty our pockets,” she recounted with a crumpled up tissue in her hand. One of the suspects pulled a t-shirt over his face, while the other brandished a small semi-automatic handgun. “I thought it was fake,” Doyne said. 

Having just ordered pizza, Doyne had her cell phone in her hand, so she called 911 while Kelly began to argue with the two men, yelling, “If you’re going to shoot me, shoot me,” she told prosecutors.

As Doyne was on the phone with a 911 operator, she saw a car driving down Thompson Street and flagged it down, she said. “I was laughing and joking and the next thing you know, a young girl jumped on the car – she almost came through the window – and she looked scared to death,” said passenger John Loftus.

Loftus said he immediately jumped out of the car and joined Kelly in chasing the now-fleeing suspects. The gunman, allegedly Ryan McManus, ran down Houston Street and, halfway through the block, turned and opened fire on the two men until the gun jammed, Loftus said. Kelly was fatally wounded.

“He never said nothing. He ran 10 to 15 feet and then just fell. I was like, ‘Dude, are you shot?’ But I just thought he was out of shape,” Loftus said.

Doyne was looking up at the street sign to figure out what hundred block she was on to give the 911 operator an exact address when she heard the shots. She immediately hung up and ran down Houston Street, where she saw Kelly lying in the middle of the road with a pillow a neighbor had placed over his stomach, she said.

Kelly had been shot in the abdomen, chest and thigh and later died at Temple University Hospital. Police found eight shell casings scattered from 1318 Houston Street to 1340 Houston Street.

Unaware of the tragedy, Loftus said he continued pursuing the suspect to Belgrade Street, where the suspect dove inside a house. Loftus said the police were there within 30 seconds and he pointed the house out to them when a man, later identified as McManus’ cousin Eric Bernakovich, came out and called him a “snitch.” 

“As soon as that guy said that to me, I said, ‘To hell with it. Let’s get out of here,’” Loftus said. He didn’t know that Kelly had even been shot until the next morning.

Barbara Gill, McManus’ aunt, said that she was in bed sleeping when she heard gunshots and looked down the street, where her kids usually hung out. “I heard a girl yelling, ‘Oh my god, they shot Shane,’” she said. Assuming it was a different Shane that was a friend of a family, she woke up her son, Bernakovich. McManus then came running through the house. “He ran right by me,” she said.

Perhaps the most damning testimony came from Bernakovich. He admitted to calling Loftus a snitch, then said he received phone calls from both McManus and Smith that night.

When he went to meet Smith, the man told him that he and McManus had “got into some s—,” Bernakovich said. “He said they was robbing somebody, some girl, I think, on Houston Street and she had been talking on the phone and that she laughed at them. Some dude came out and he chased them. … [Smith] said he heard gunshots as he ran.”

Smith also asked for a pair of sweatpants, Bernakovich said. Later that night, he said, McManus called him and said he was at a hospital. “He asked me where the dude got shot. I told him in the leg and chest. … He said, ‘I f—ed up.’”

The prosecution read back part of Bernakovich’s testimony to the Homicide Unit from that day: “‘He was saying he was at the hospital and to make sure no one snitches on him. I said, ‘They already know it’s you,’ … He said, ‘I tried to rob this girl and this guy just started chasing me. … Oh, s—, I f—ed up.’”

Bernakovich admitted to seeing McManus days earlier with a gun that he bought from “some lady.”

Smith’s defense also read back a portion of Bernakovich’s statement to homicide: “[Smith] was like, ‘Damn, Ryan is stupid for shooting that kid.’”

The lawyer claimed that detectives helped Bernakovich “fill in the blanks” of his story while he was giving the statement. He pointed out that Smith admitted to running the opposite direction, down Berks Street, and claimed that he had no knowledge that McManus had a gun prior to the robbery.

He argued to the judge, “In no way is Mr. Smith responsible for Mr. Kelly’s demise, and it’s tragic, but the law is the law.” He claimed that Smith could never have foreseen someone would chase the pair, or that McManus had a gun he would use to shoot somebody.

The judge didn’t buy it, siding with the Commonwealth, who argued that, because Smith participated in the armed robbery with McManus and because Kelly was shot while a suspect was fleeing to avoid apprehension for that crime, it was appropriate to charge Smith with second degree murder during the commission of a felony.

Both men were held for arraignment and trial. McManus is charged with murder.


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