NORRISTOWN >> Two Norristown men were ordered by a district court judge to stand trial on murder-related charges in connection with the gunshot slaying of a 16-year-old boy in the borough.
After a two-hour preliminary hearing on Thursday, District Court Judge Gregory L. Scott determined Montgomery County prosecutors had presented sufficient evidence to hold William Durell Wilson, 30, of the first block of Zummo Way, and Isaiah “Zay” Freeman, 18, of the first block of East Spruce Street, for trial in connection with the 6:30 p.m. July 6 gunshot slaying of Jordan Scott at Chain Street and Blackberry Alley.
Wilson and Freeman each face charges of first- and third-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, aggravated assault, persons not to possess firearms and possessing instruments of crime in connection with the murder and the wounding of a second teenager who had been walking with Jordan Scott.
The men face formal arraignment hearings in county court on Oct. 25.
At the start of the hearing, Judge Scott made clear that he was not related to the murder victim.
“We simply share the same last name,” Judge Scott advised all parties connected to the case.
While prosecutors contend Freeman was the triggerman and Wilson was the person who supplied the murder weapon and was the getaway driver, testimony revealed that the two men fingered each other as the shooter when they gave statements to detectives.
Freeman claimed Wilson told him, “We have to get them boys” and wanted Freeman to be the one to shoot. However, Freeman told detectives he refused and that Wilson exited the gray Dodge Charger they were traveling in and shot Jordan Scott and the second teenager.
“He said Mr. Wilson waited for them boys and shot them boys. He continued to stay that Mr. Wilson did the actual shooting,” Montgomery County Detective Michael Crescitelli testified during the preliminary hearing, revealing for the first time what Freeman told authorities after his arrest.
But in his statements to detectives Wilson “was adamant” that Freeman was responsible for the fatal shooting, detectives alleged in an arrest affidavit.
Testimony and court documents revealed that a third person who had been in the vehicle with Wilson and Freeman told detectives that Freeman was the shooter.
“He knew what was going on and he supplied the weapon,” county Deputy District Attorney Samantha Cauffman argued as she sought to have all charges held against Wilson as a conspirator in the killing.
Defense lawyers John I. McMahon Jr., who represents Freeman, and Matthew Quigg, who represents Wilson, argued prosecutors did not present sufficient evidence to move the defendants to trial and asked that all charges be dismissed. During more contentious moments at the hearing, defense lawyers argued prosecutors tried to prove their allegations through “hearsay” evidence, the statements of witnesses, through detectives, without actually presenting the witnesses in court.
A motive for Jordan Scott’s killing was not revealed during the hearing.
Scott, of the 500 block of High Street in Norristown’s East End, was pronounced dead at 7:28 p.m. at a local hospital. An autopsy determined Scott died as a result of multiple gunshot wounds and two projectiles were removed from the teenager’s body, according to court documents.
A second juvenile male who had been walking with Scott on Chain Street approaching Blackberry Alley at the time of the shooting also suffered a gunshot wound to the right ankle and was treated for his wound at Paoli Hospital, court documents indicate.
Detectives relied on video surveillance in the area of the fatal shooting, cellphone analysis and eyewitness accounts to identify Freeman and Wilson as suspects.
The investigation determined Wilson was driving a gray 2013 Dodge Charger with Freeman in the front passenger seat when they saw the two victims walking in the vicinity of Oak and Chain Streets, according to detectives. Wilson drove to an alley between Chain and George streets and stopped the car, according to witness accounts contained in court documents.
Freeman, also known as “Young Bull Zay,” exited the vehicle, pulled the hood to his gray hooded sweatshirt over his head, walked up Blackberry Alley and peeked around the corner of a building, according to the arrest affidavit. When the two victims walked by Freeman allegedly opened fire, striking both Scott and the second juvenile.
Freeman then ran back to Wilson’s waiting vehicle and allegedly stated, “I got him, I got him, I hit him,” and “I shot him all in here” while pointing to his chest, according to witness accounts contained in the arrest affidavit.
Wilson allegedly drove Freeman away from the scene. Norristown Police Officer Edward Butterworth testified that shortly after he heard gunshots in the area he observed a charcoal colored Dodge Charger traveling at an unusual rate of speed in Jamison Alley.
Butterworth was one of the first officers to arrive at the shooting scene and provided first aid to a dying Scott.
“There was a lot of blood on the sidewalk and wounds to the chest,” Butterworth testified.
With the help of automatic license plate readers and other video surveillance the Dodge Charger eventually was traced to Wilson, court documents indicate. Cellphone analysis also placed Wilson’s phone in the vicinity of the fatal shooting at the time it occurred, detectives alleged.