Aleathea Gillard, Shareena Joachim, and Kaisha Duggins are behind bars for killing a homeless man, Robert Barnes, at a gas station in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, after he was accused of hitting a black boy and calling him a racial slur.
On April 7, 2015, a 10-year-old boy rode his bicycle home and told his mother, Gillard, that he got into an argument with a man at the Sunoco gas station in the 5500 block of North 5th Street.
He also stated that during the altercation, the man hit him and called him a racial slur.
Gillard, who was 34 at the time, got into a gray minivan and drove to the gas station. Joachim, Duggins, and several teens went with her, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
When they got there around 6:50 p.m., they approached Barnes, a veteran who was standing in front of the store and began punching, kicking, and stomping on him.
The store’s surveillance camera captured Gillard striking Barnes with a broken chair leg, and Duggins was seen hitting him with a hammer. Joachim, who was pregnant at the time, sprayed mace.
Three teens, who were Gillard’s 13-year-old son, her 12-year-old daughter, and their 14-year-old friend, were also seen contributing to the attack.
The group eventually fled the area, leaving Barnes unconscious and bleeding on the ground.
Emergency medical services arrived at the scene, and Barnes was transported to Einstein Medical Center, where he was placed in a medically induced coma.
He remained comatose until he succumbed to his injuries seven months later, on Nov. 25, 2015.
The chief medical investigator for Montgomery County stated that Robert Barnes died of “complications from blunt impact to the head.”
Gillard, Joachim, and Duggins, who are all mothers, were arrested several days after the attack.
They were charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, and other related crimes. After Barnes died from his injuries, their charges were upgraded to murder in April 2015.
On Jan. 29, 2018, all three women pled guilty to charges of voluntary manslaughter, conspiracy, and possession of an instrument of crime in Robert Barnes’ death. They also apologized to the victim’s family.
In June 2018, Gillard and Duggins were sentenced to 22.5 to 45 years in prison, while Joachim, who is Duggins’ sister, was sentenced to 12.5 to 25 years in prison. She had also given birth while in the county jail.
The Philly Voice reported that Joachim received a lighter sentence because she used mace during the gas station attack.
During their sentencing, Philadelphia County Judge Sandy L.V. Byrd told Gillard that she “engaged in a measure of brutality substantially more than was required to effectuate the desired end.”
Instead of finding out if her son’s accusations were true, she reacted in a violent manner.
Assistant District Attorney Chesley Lightsey stated that Gillard brought two of her eight children to the attack to teach them a lesson.
She added that Gillard wanted them to know that “if you feel slighted, you go kick someone’s butt.”
An investigation would later reveal that the boy lied about being hit by Barnes, whom relatives said was addicted to alcohol and spent years homeless around Fifth Street in Olney.
CBS News reported that police officials reviewed surveillance footage and found no evidence that Barnes hit the boy.
The three juveniles were also taken into custody, NBC Philadelphia reported. They pleaded guilty to attempted murder, aggravated assault, simple assault, and conspiracy.
Prosecutors later dropped the attempted murder charge. They were sentenced to juvenile residential treatment facilities.
The 10-year-old boy was never charged.