ELIZABETH—Last week, a Union County jury found Bryden Williams guilty of murder, unlawful possession of handgun, and possession of a firearm for an unlawful purpose relating to the Sept. 3, 2006 homicide of a Burlington County man, said Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow.
According to the investigation, on Sept. 2, 2006, the victim in the case, Joel Whitley, 27, drove from his home in Burlington County with his wife and three children to visit friends and family in the Union County area. At about 8:00 p.m., according to the investigation, Whitley met his cousin Omar Boyd in Elizabeth, and drove Boyd back to Boyd’s home in Plainfield, said Assistant Prosecutor James Donnelly, who prosecuted the case.
Once they got to Boyd’s home, Whitley had expressed an interest in going to party and they wound up at a house on East Sixth Street in Plainfield where there were several people drinking, said Donnelly. The apartment was rented by Dynisha Gibson.
At about 1 a.m. on Sept. 3, 2006, some joking between Whitley and another guest suddenly became heated and the two nearly fought inside the apartment, said Donnelly.
At that point, Gibson asked the parties to leave. A short time later, Whitley realized that he had left his cell phone at the apartment and insisted that they go back to retrieve the phone, said Donnelly.
Once they got back to the apartment on East 6th, Boyd got out of the car and called up to the window of the apartment to ask for the phone. Gibson refused to give the phone back, according to the investigation. When Whitley learned this, he went to the front door of the apartment and began to yell for his phone and bang on the door. At that point Gibson told him that he’d better watch out because she was going to call her “brother,” said Donnelly.
Moments after the call, Bryden Williams arrived at the scene in a pick-up truck that had been borrowed from a friend. Williams got out of the truck and pulled a 9mm handgun and pointed it first at Boyd who was standing on the sidewalk. Gibson then called out that it was not Boyd, but Whitley at the door that was “disrespecting the house.”
Williams then walked up to Whitley, pointed the gun to his head and walked him to the side of the house. Once at the side of the house, Whitley tried knock defendant’s hand with the gun away from his head. Boyd, watching from the sidewalk saw the defendant re-aim the gun at Whitley’s’ midsection, and saw the gun go off. Whitley immediately dropped to the ground, said Donnelly.
Boyd then ran in fear that he would be shot.
Boyd ran past police HQ and did not stop or call the police. He went to a friends house for help and the two later returned on foot, and discovered Whitley had been killed. They then called 911.
Williams is currently serving a seven-year prison sentenced for a drug conviction. Sentencing on the homicide trial is set for December 4, 2009 before Union County Superior Court Judge James C. Heimlich and Williams faces up to life in prison.
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