"When I give the word, 'tear the (expletive) out of that frame' " were explicit lyrics of the late rapper Tupac Shakur in a song that ultimately is about using guns to put someone in a casket.
The phrase also appeared in a letter Maurice Patterson, 36, sent from inside the Lycoming County Prison in 2007, according to District Attorney Eric R. Linhardt.
The letter got to Patterson's associates days before Eric Sawyer, 38, was found shot to death in an unnamed alley near High Street and Dale Place about 3 a.m. March 31, 2007.
"I never heard that song before," Patterson said Monday under cross examination by Linhardt in the sixth day of Patterson's homicide trial in County Court.
Patterson repeatedly has denied the phrase means anything other than drug-related slang.
"You said you got that phrase from Tupac," Linhardt said. "Is there another song I am not aware of" where "tear the (expletive) out of that frame is used"?
Det. Ed McCoy testified that he researched the question and couldn't find one.
Patterson also denied knowing Sawyer by his given birth name.
"I didn't know the man's name," Patterson said, claiming he only knew him by the nickname "Bop."
Linhardt seemed incredulous about this and wondered how Patterson didn't know Sawyer's name, a man who was going to be the best man at his wedding, according to previous testimony.
Linhardt asked Patterson about conversations he had from inside the prison several hours after the shooting.
In one call, Patterson talks to his girlfriend-wife around 9:30 a.m. March 31. On it, he is heard saying, "Say it ain't so ... where's Little Man?"
Little Man was vernacular for Javier Cruz-Echevarria.
"He ain't out here, or the other brother," Patterson's girlfriend said.
Earlier testimony from police told jurors the initial news release provided by police to the media did not name the deceased nor did it identify the two suspects police had in custody until later in the afternoon.
"You knew your boys were out in the street," Linhardt said. "You never mentioned their names. My concern is why didn't you ask her?"
Prior testimony of Patterson speaking hours before the murder telling Cruz-Echevarria "that's going to be handled tonight" also was brought up by Linhardt.
Patterson said he heard helicopters overhead early that morning. By the end of the day, police had provided media outlets the names of the deceased and of two suspects in custody: Cruz-Echevarria and Sean Durrant.
Linhardt asked Patterson why he didn't reach out to Michelle Kieffer, Bop's girlfriend, to see if she was holding up or what the funeral arrangements would be.
Linhardt asked Patterson if he mentioned Bop in a May 2008 interview with police Agent Leonard Dincher when Patterson said that if he had wanted it done, he would have pulled the trigger himself. Patterson then tells the agent he would have "dropped him off in Philly. He would be on the corner ... another stat(istic). Do you know how many drug dealers wind up dead in Philly?"
Conversations were played between Patterson and Cruz-Echevarria's girlfriend and Patterson's girlfriend-wife, revealing how Patterson was adamant about getting about $1,800, which turned out to be $1,312, out of Cruz-Echevarria's girlfriend and house.
Patterson urged the women to tear the house apart to find the money.
He also has testified he thought the "18" discussed was $18,000, not $1,800.
Agent Stephen Sorage testified he went to Lowe's to see if the saw joint that Patterson testified to was a "digital scale" instead of a hacksaw Durrant and Cruz-Echevarria used to cut the shotgun. The item is available by special order only. Durrant was not asked by investigators if he ever placed such an order.
Patterson is heard speaking to his girlfriend, asking her to go to "Boo Durrant's place." Boo is a nickname for Durrant's wife.
But Patterson's girlfriend responds that the "cops are watching."
Patterson immediately replied, "Stay away."
Linhardt jumped on this reaction, claiming Patterson said he had nothing to hide but appears to have something to fear.
"I didn't want her in this," Patterson said of Durrant's wife.
Patterson became angry with Linhardt's repeated assertions that the defendant knew who was dead that morning.
"I still don't know who is dead," Patterson said. "I know they're (Cruz-Echevarria and Durrant) are locked up for a homicide."
Around 8:57 that evening, Patterson is heard laughing with his girlfriend and wife. Patterson's girlfriend's mother speaks to him at the prison. She said, "This is (expletive) crazy. Was it necessary? Wasn't that going to be one of the dudes in your wedding?"
"Mom," he said, "they record these phone calls."
Patterson testified that the "dude" referred to was Cruz-Echevarria.
Linhardt then asked Patterson that if he wasn't worried about the coded messages before the homicide he sent from prison, why worry about his fiance's mother being recorded now.
Linhardt also peppered Patterson with questions about his statement that the March 31 information was about the biggest drug "score" in the organization's history, how he wanted the torch to be passed to Sawyer or Bop, and that Durrant was using cocaine and heroin product and depreciating the organization's profits, according to evidence and testimony.
Patterson said in his short time in the city, the organization brought in 1 1/2 kilos of cocaine and about 60 grams of heroin. One ounce of cocaine is worth about $650, Patterson said.
But the score discussed on March 31 in Philadelphia was for about 2 ounces of cocaine, according to testimony.
"You're asking the jury to believe you want this organization to be run by Eric Sawyer, but you don't have a single conversation between March 1 and the morning of the killing with (him)," Linhardt said.
"And that means what," Patterson said. "He knew me as Boo Banks."
"Why send a man who was using the product on the last run?" Linhardt said.
Today, attorneys are expected to present their closing arguments following testimony by one additional witness.
Patterson is represented by attorneys Michael Rudinski and Kyle Rude.
Linhardt is seeking the death penalty in the case, being heard before Judge Nancy Butts.
Should the jurors return a guilty verdict, they will be asked to determine whether Patterson receives a life term in state prison without parole or death.
Durrant has pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and related charges and signed a plea agreement to receive a sentence of 25 to 60 years. He has not been formally sentenced.
Cruz-Echevarria was found guilty of homicide by jurors and is serving life in state prison without a chance for parole.