James Frazier, a Philadelphia man exonerated and set free by District Attorney Larry Krasner’s Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) in 2019, was arrested May 6 on new gun charges as well as assault charges, according to court documents.
The news comes in the final days of a contentious campaign between Krasner, the incumbent DA seeking a second term, and challenger Carlos Vega, a former prosecutor who was fired by Krasner.
Frazier was originally convicted in 2013 for the 2012 murder of Rodney Ramseur and Latia Jones in West Philadelphia. His conviction was overturned in 2019, after the CIU raised doubts about a police officer who allegedly coerced Frazier’s confession.
The police officer at the center of Frazier’s 2013 conviction has been charged with sexually assaulting witnesses, and has had several of the cases he investigated downgraded or overturned.
New court documents show the same James Frazier is accused of possession of a firearm without a license, carrying firearms in public in Philadelphia, aggravated assault, simple assault, and a number of other offenses related to an incident on April 26.
Former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain, a political critic of Krasner, put the news out on Twitter.
“James Frazier was convicted of a 2012 double murder but then DA Krasner engineered his release,” McSwain tweeted. “Last week, he was arrested for shooting someone. What a shocker. It’s no mystery why violent crime is out of control in Philadelphia. #FireKrasner”
A spokesperson at the district attorney’s office, Jane Roh, has not responded to a request for comment.
The district attorney race is the main event of Tuesday’s primary in Philadelphia. Given the city’s deeply Democratic makeup, it’s nearly a given that the winner of the primary will go on to win the general election in November.
Krasner ran in 2017 on a far-left platform of decarceration and a brand of criminal justice reform that emphasizes reducing the use of cash bail and the prosecution of drug- and gun-related crimes. He has been defending the policies he has implemented during his first term in the wake of a historic climb in homicides and gun violence.
Vega, a fellow Democrat, is also campaigning on a platform of reform, but has blamed much of the upswing in violence on Krasner’s more radical version.
The race is drawing national attention just as Krasner’s first election in 2017 did. At the time, Krasner’s history of suing the Philadelphia DA’s office in his career as a defense attorney and his connections to billionaire George Soros drew headlines about his effort to lead the city’s criminal prosecution team.
After he was elected, a number of career prosecutors were let go early in 2018, a group that included Vega. Several of those fired prosecutors later sued.
The CIU has been a cornerstone of Krasner’s tenure. Earlier in the month, Krasner’s office secured their 20th exoneration. The CIU has also garnered national media attention in places like the Washington Post and the New York Times.
This year’s election began to draw more national attention when it became apparent that Krasner’s re-election wasn’t guaranteed after the Philadelphia Democratic City Committee declined to endorse him in April. The refusal to endorse an incumbent is a rare move in Philadelphia politics.
This wariness to support Krasner among some Democrats was further underscored when Mayor Jim Kenney dodged several questions in a television interview about whether he supported Krasner’s re-election.
Nevertheless, because Krasner has been given such a high profile — he’s recently been the feature of a PBS documentary, has a memoir scheduled to be released soon, and has been backed by celebrities and athletes — his re-election campaign has been billed as a test for left-wing criminal justice ideas.
Perhaps the most vocal critic of Kranser’s policies has been the city’s Fraternal Order of Police. In a City Journal article last week, John McNesby, the president of the city’s FOP, said, “It’s been a complete train wreck since [Krasner] has been in office. His failed social experiment has driven crime up, driven murders up.”
A PAC running an “accountability” campaign against Krasner released a poll summary earlier this month showing several trends had begun to point in Vega’s direction. However, the summary of the poll commissioned by the Protect Our Police PAC did not include top line “horserace” results of the head-to-head matchup.
Todd Shepherd is Broad + Liberty’s chief investigative reporter. Send him tips at tshepherd at broadandliberty.com, or use his encrypted email at shepherdreports at protonmail.com.