Death penalty sought for alleged gang members accused of stabbing, burning teen to death

Northampton County prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against two alleged gang members accused of stabbing and burning a teen to death in Bethlehem.

Yzire Jenkins-Rowe, 22, and Miles Harper, 21, were due Thursday in Northampton County Court for their formal arraignments on homicide and related charges. Jenkins-Rowe was at his hearing and was arraigned, while Harper was still in Lehigh County Court and will be arraigned at a later date.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Patricia Fuentes Mulqueen took the opportunity to file notice of aggravating factors against both men, meaning she will seek the death penalty if either of them is convicted of first-degree murder in the killing of 18-year-old Tyrell Holmes.

Mulqueen said Holmes was tortured to death and his murder was committed during the course of felonies: kidnapping, arson and aggravated arson. She is also seeking the death penalty against Jenkins-Rowe because he has a significant prior felony history.

Bethlehem police said Holmes and several of his friends were involved in a “drug rip” robbery involving marijuana. Holmes could be identified as one of the five men who robbed the victim, and gang members became aware of that fact, according to police.

At the time, Holmes was living with Jenkins-Rowe and Alkiohn Dunkins on East Raspberry Street in Bethlehem.

On April 24, 2018, Holmes was repeatedly stabbed and then set on fire while he was still alive near the Parkhurst Apartments in the 1800 block of Barbara Street in Northeast Bethlehem. Northampton County Coroner Zachary Lysek determined Holmes died from stab wounds, smoke inhalation and severe burns. Prosecutors later revealed members of the Money Rules Everything gang were involved.

The night before he was killed, Holmes was worried that his life was in danger and sent a Snapchat message with the names of three MRE members, according to court records.

Harper and Jenkins-Rowe, both alleged members of the MRE gang, were charged last September in Holmes’ killing. Mulqueen said Thursday the killing is still under investigation and investigators are looking at additional suspects.

Jenkins-Rowe, of Bethlehem, is serving a sentence on corrupt organization charges in Pennsylvania’s Phoenix state prison in Montgomery County.

Harper, of Allentown, is serving a sentence for shooting two men June 1, 2018, outside the Lehigh Valley Mall. Harper pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, and in exchange the remaining charges including two counts of attempted homicide were dropped.

At his sentencing, Harper admitted he associated with a group of Money Rules Everything members, a group that would legally be considered a gang.

Prosecutors said the MRE gang is based out of Bethlehem, and its members were behind Holmes’ murder in the city; a robbery and attack July 5 on the South Side; and an armed robbery at Moravian College.

Dunkins is serving a state prison sentence for the armed robbery at Moravian College.

*Story by lehighvalleylive