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Charges filed in 2008 Philly murder of Austin teacher

PHILADELPHIA — A convicted killer already serving a life sentence has been charged in the shooting death of an aspiring teacher from Austin who was gunned down for his iPod a month after moving to Philadelphia.

Beau Zabel moved from Austin to Philadelphia in May 2008 and was scheduled to start work in Philadelphia public schools. Zabel, 23, was shot dead a month later in a robbery near the Italian Market as he walked home from his night shift at a Starbucks. He was a 2003 graduate of Austin High School and 2008 graduate of Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill.

The Philadelphia Inquirer said Marcellus Jones was charged Wednesday in the murder. He is already serving a life sentence for killing his get-away driver in the Zabel killing.

Having been convicted of murder already, he could face the death penalty. That lies ahead at trial.

After detectives were done with Jones, there was one more thing to do.


Detective George Fetters - who had worked the case with Deegan from the start - made a call to Zabel's family in Minnesota.

"I'm happy to say we've arrested the man who killed your son," he said. It was a call he had long wanted to make.

Authorities said last month that charges were imminent. They said a witness stepped forward to tell police that Jones displayed the iPod and claimed he killed Zabel after realizing it wasn't a more valuable iPhone.

In the Inquirer story, Wednesday night, it was reported that to prepare Jones to be charged with murder, prison guards removed the face mask that the 35-year-old is made to wear to keep him from spitting on people. At the Homicide Unit, Jones - who is serving a life term after a 2012 conviction for killing a 19-year-old accomplice in the Zabel slaying - shouted when a detective took him to the bathroom.

Jones said he was innocent. He had been wrongly convicted the last time around. Where were his rights?

"I'm another Trayvon Martin," the Inquirer reported Jones saying.

Sitting in a cramped office, Lt. Mark Deegan of the Special Investigation Unit shook his head.

"We go through this a lot," said Deegan, who has been working homicides for 15 years. "He is trying to make himself the victim."


But Deegan and the other investigators who have worked the Zabel case over the years have long known Jones to be something else entirely: a remorseless killer, the Inquirer said.

"This is one of the ones where you get a lot of satisfaction," Deegan said. "This guy Marcellus Jones is a thug."

On Wednesday, Deegan credited an Inquirer series published on the five-year anniversary of Zabel's death as providing the spark that helped investigators get the evidence they needed.

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