On the day Frederick Tucker died, Cummings had been a fugitive for nearly eight years.
Police arrested him outside a Philadelphia 7-Eleven in October 2000 after they found a handgun in the car he had been driving. He was charged with carrying a firearm without a license, a felony. Free before his trial, Cummings simply moved back home to Aiken, a city of tree-lined boulevards just outside Augusta, Ga. On Dec. 13, 2000, a Philadelphia municipal court judge issued a warrant for his arrest.
"I knew I was skipping out on a court date. I had intended on going back up there," Cummings said in an interview from a Columbia, S.C., prison. "I didn't think it was that serious."
Gun crimes have long been viewed as especially serious in Philadelphia, a city whose murder rate is routinely among the nation's highest. Malone said she could not tell from Cummings' file whether prosecutors ever considered extraditing him; if they did, they decided against it, likely because the evidence was thin, she said. But not so thin he wouldn't be tried if he ever came back to Philadelphia on his own.
"If it would not require extra resources and money and time and effort, we would absolutely proceed," she said. "Because it's a gun case, there is a public interest."