Witnesses: building tension, taunts and gay slurs and then a rampage that left 3 dead

Those who knew him said James Elijah Dickson was pretty sensitive about who handled his camouflage-colored 12-gauge shotgun.

It turns out he was more sensitive about being taunted as gay.

It was that taunting, testified Levi Almonte, that touched off the April 17, 2016, massacre in a Kensington rowhouse that left three dead and Dickson, 45, charged with their murders.

“Aw, cuz, it’s like that?” asked Kenneth Stowe, according to Almonte, testifying Monday in the first day of Dickson’s nonjury trial before Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Glenn B. Bronson.

Dickson, who has a long criminal record and a history of mental illness, agreed to waive a jury trial if Assistant District Attorney Andrew Notaristefano did not seek the death penalty.

Dickson’s lawyers, Mythri Jayaraman and Wendy Ramos, said Dickson will testify in his defense and claim he shot in self-defense.

Almonte, 26, who escaped the bloodshed, described Stowe as

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