Family of elderly man beaten to death with traffic cone blindsided by teen suspect posting bail: 'I lost it'

Court records show a local organization posted bail for one of two 14-year-olds accused of beating an elderly man to death with a traffic cone last summer in North Philadelphia. 

James Lambert, 73, was walking on the 2100 block of Cecil B. Moore Avenue on June 24 around 3 a.m. when he was attacked and fatally beaten by a group of teens, according to police. 

Richard Jones was one of several teens charged in the deadly beating and his bail was set at $750k. 

Nearly five months after the attack on Lambert, court records reviewed by FOX 29's Kelly Rule shows an organization called the Movement Alliance Project helped Jones post bail in November.

James Lambert, Jr.

The cash bail system requires 10% of the set bail to be paid to get spring someone free. It does not require a hearing, and it's often kept between the court and the juvenile system with no notification to the District Attorney's Office.

Tania Stephens, Lambert's niece, said she was in disbelief when her daughter said she saw Jones on the streets in North Philadelphia. 


"I brushed it off, didn't think anything about it because I know the ADA would have called me, would have told us, would have put us on notice," Stephens said. "Well how long has be been out!? No one could tell me that, I lost it."

FOX 29's Kelly Rule stopped by the Movement Alliance Project's listed address in Philadelphia's Chinatown neighborhood and was told by an employee that they would pass along more information at another time. An email message and phone call placed by FOX 29 to the Movement Alliance Project also went unanswered.

"There were two 14-year-olds incarcerated, pending adult charges, for beating a 73-year-old man to death on a school night in the city of Philadelphia - the irony is - in front of the Martin Luther King center, which stands for justice, and we have no justice," Stephens said. "Right now, I feel like the criminals get more advantages than the victims do."

Since the attack, Lamberts' family has had harassment and retaliation concerns for her 84-year-old mother, who is also Lambert's sister. 

"We’re seeing mental help right now because a lot of us are struggling with this, because of how tragic it was that he died," Stephens said. "Everyone gets off of work, we have to go to my mom’s house, sit there for hours, and make sure she’s alright. Why should we have to live like animals right now because the animals are out roaming around?"

A spokesperson for District Attorney Larry Krasner said, "The Commonwealth plans to address this at the next hearing, which is on Monday."

On Sunday, the Movement Alliance Project issued a response to "misleading reports." The statement reads in part:

"In this case, and in every case where an organization may post bail, the 15-yr-old was granted bail by the court and recognized not to be at flight risk. According to the law, bail is not to be used as a pretext to imprison a person pretrial, but as a guarantee that they will return to court until their case is concluded. The child was interviewed while incarcerated and a support interview was done with the family in order to assess what support the child would require should the child be bailed out and to make sure they understood any conditions that were put on release. The 15-yr-old has been receiving mentorship and supportive pretrial services that will support the child to keep showing up to court, continue receiving a high school education and ultimately be a positive contributor to the community."

"The longstanding practice of community-led efforts to fund bailouts is grounded in a recognition that too many people are imprisoned pretrial, not because a jury found them guilty, but because they cannot afford to pay the cost to be free. Community organizations do this work, especially to bail out children who are incarcerated, because it leads to better outcomes for the community. There are documented, long-term public safety benefits to having people remain connected to their families, their housing, their schools, and their jobs while they await trial."

"We are so deeply saddened that this tragedy occurred, and we also know that the answer to the epidemic of violence in our communities is to repair harm when it is caused and provide the care and attention needed to prevent more harm from happening. Unfortunately, careless reporting has capitalized off a family’s righteous anger, pain, and trauma, making a tragic situation worse. Our communities need more investment in trauma support services that can benefit families impacted by violence. We hope that all families involved are able to receive what they need to bring restoration that can initiate healing for them and our city."