Jose Pagan

Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania
Dates of Crimes:  Dec. 30, 1990, Jan. 11, 1991

Jose Pagan was convicted of two separate double homicides committed 12 days apart. In July 1992 he was convicted of the second-degree murders of Luis Bermudez, 20, and Ivelisse Gonzales, 21. The two were murdered inside Bermudez's apartment in the 400 block of West Dauphin St. on Dec. 30, 1990. In Dec. 1992 Pagan was convicted of the first-degree murders of Pablo Padilla, Sr., 59, and Pablo Padilla, Jr., 31. The Padillas were murdered inside their home at 4741 North 3rd St. on Jan. 11, 1991. Pagan was sentenced to death for these murders. On April 1, 1991, Police Officer Julio Aponte reported that Pagan had confessed to the four murders ten days earlier. Aponte later helped to convict Pagan by testifying to this alleged confession.

However, neither jury learned key facts that would have undermined Aponte's credibility. In early Jan. 1992, months before Pagan's trials, it became known that Aponte, while a police officer, was part of a ring that robbed drug houses, stealing drugs, cash, and weapons. Aponte was later imprisoned for several years on these charges. Shortly after his release from prison, he was arrested in New York on drug related charges and remains incarcerated in New York.

At both of Pagan's trials, another witness, Hector Alicia, provided similar testimony as that of Aponte, and testified that Pagan had confessed to all four murders. Nevertheless, five years later, in 1997, he pleaded guilty to four counts of third-degree murder for the same murders. A third witness, George Swisher placed Pagan at the scene of the Bermudas-Gonzales murders. However, Swisher was convicted of those murders eight years later in Dec. 2000 and is awaiting trial on the Padilla murders. A fourth witness, Rosemary Santiago, also testified against Pagan at both of his trials. Pagan alleges she testified at his first trial to protect her cousin, Alicia, from having murder charges filed against him. He also alleges she testified at his second trial to prevent murder charges from being filed against her as she was the senior Padilla's ex-girlfriend.

During the first double homicide, one of the victims, Gonzales, was raped. DNA test results linked that rape not to Pagan, but to another man, Jamad Rohn. He was arrested for the Bermudas-Gonzales murders in 1996. He pleaded guilty in 1999 to the murders. Rohn also implicated Santiago in the Padilla murders, as does her cousin, Alicia. According to both men, Santiago set up her ex-boyfriend to be robbed and was in the house at the time of his murder. The Philadelphia District Attorney's office has acknowledged in a motion to the PA Supreme Court that had it provided to Pagan's defense information on its witnesses prior to his trials, the outcome of the trials would likely have been different. The PA Inmate Locator web site showed that Pagan was still imprisoned as of July 2007.  [7/07]


References:  WebsiteCUADPCommonwealth v. Pagan

Posted in:  Victims of the State, Philadelphia Cases, Quadruple Homicide Cases