Eric Williams, an Eight Trey Crips gang member, has been found guilty of second-degree murder in the shooting death of his friend, Jabree West. The jury rejected Williams’ claim that West was killed by an unknown man looking to buy a gun from him on Bronx River Road in 2021.
The jury instead accepted the prosecution’s argument that the killing was the result of a personal feud. West had previously dated Williams’ girlfriend, and prosecutors revealed that shortly before the shooting, Williams had learned more details about their past relationship.
West Shot While Sleeping
In the early morning of June 20, 2021, West was shot as he slept on a building’s front stoop on Bronx River Road. Shortly before the shooting occurred, Williams called his girlfriend and expressed anger and heartbreak over the text messages he read on West’s phone about the former couple’s prior relationship.
Prosecutors Nadine Nagler and Adrian Murphy presented evidence including video of Williams handling a gun shortly before the incident, although the actual shooting was not recorded. According to Nagler, Williams demonstrated a clear intent to kill.
“Nothing screams intent more than a shot to the back of the head, a shot to the brain,” Nagler stated during closing arguments.
Meanwhile, Williams’ defense team argued that he was suspected of the crime solely because of his time spent with West prior to the shooting. Their association in the hours and days prior to the murder were documented in photos and calling records recovered from West’s cell phone.
Caught By Cell Phone Tracking
Six months after West was killed, detectives were notified that William’s cell phone had been tracked to a home in Staten Island. Williams was found in possession of a weapon and apprehended by authorities on weapons charges.
During his five-hour interrogation by Yonkers Detectives Jonathan Blake and Sean Concannon, Williams apparently made several admissions, including calling West a “demon,” and declaring that he had “killed a killer.”
However, Williams’ statement during his interrogation differed from his testimony on the witness stand. When questioned, Williams explained that he meant he had merely enabled the killing to happen because he didn’t have enough money to transport the pair back to Harlem—not that he was responsible for the actual shooting.
Lynda Visco, Williams’ defense attorney, argued that detectives coerced a confession out of Williams, and repeatedly interrupted his statement—especially when he was trying to deny being West’s killer. Visco also contended that Williams’ responses under interrogation were the result of a gang street code to protect any details of surrounding the shooting.
Williams Blames Different Shooter
During Williams’ testimony, he described how he and West had been trying to sell a gun that night in Mount Vernon. Williams claimed that the pair was meeting up with a friend of West’s who had set up a late-night meeting with a buyer. According to Williams, when the sale fell through, the group of men became physical while trying to retrieve the money from the unknown buyer.
Williams contends that he fled the scene towards an alley before the alleged buyer shot West with the gun. During his testimony, Williams emphasised that he and West had formed a bond and he had no intention of hurting him.
Conviction and Closure
Williams now faces a minimum of 15 years to life in prison for West’s murder. As determined by acting state Supreme Court Justice Robert Neary, sentencing is scheduled for August 11, 2023.
After the verdict was announced, Jabree West’s mother, Ebony Mays, expressed relief and thanked the prosecutors and detectives involved in the case while also acknowledging the sorrow of Williams’ parents.
“I’m relieved, I’m thankful to God because without Him this could not have been possible, I’m overjoyed to have justice for my son and yet still sorrowful,” she said. “That family over there has also lost a son.”
Eric Williams is currently serving a two-year prison sentence for a separate weapons charge.