SOMERVILLE, NJ.- A Somerset County Jury has found Michael Washington, 28, of Paterson, guilty in connection with the Oct. 16, 2017, Bound Brook fatal shooting of William Roberts, 27, of Center Street, Somerville.
Washington was found guilty of first degree aggravated manslaughter as a lesser offense of first degree murder, second degree possession of a firearm for an unlawful purpose, and second degree unlawful possession of a handgun.
The guilty verdicts came after an eleven day trial before the Hon. Kevin M. Shanahan, J.S.C. The jury deliberated approximately ten hours over two days before delivering their verdicts.
Somerset Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson provided the following account of the incident:
Bound Brook police responded to multiple 9-1-1 calls of shots fired in the area of 34 Church St. at 6:23 p.m. Oct. 16; police found Roberts, suffering from a gunshot wound to his stomach. The police, along with emergency medical personnel began life saving measures on Roberts, who was then transported to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, New Brunswick where he was pronounced dead.
Three shell casings and two live rounds were found on Church Street; a subsequent investigation by Somerset County Prosecutor's Office detectives determined Washington pulled out a handgun, and fired multiple times at Roberts with one shot striking the victim causing his death.
An autopsy revealed that the projectile had struck victim Roberts’ abdominal aorta, causing him to bleed to death internally.
Washington was taken into custody two weeks after the shooting from the basement at a residence on Cherry Street in Bound Brook where he had been hiding. A search warrant for the basement uncovered, among other things, several glassine envelopes of heroin.
The original indictment charged Washington with third degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance with respect to the heroin. However, that count was severed from this trial and is still pending.
Washington has remained on detention in the Somerset County Jail since his arrest last year A sentencing date has not yet been set.
He faces up to 40 years in state prison, with 30 years and six months without parole for the charges for which he stands convicted.
Besides the heroin charge that is still pending, Washington also has two additional indictments pending, one charging third degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance, (alprazolam), from July 9, 2017, and another charging second degree unlawful possession of a handgun from June 20, 2016. The remaining three charges carry a potential for up to 20 years, 10 years without parole.
In addition to the Bound Brook Police Department and the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office Major Crimes Unit, the investigation was assisted by the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office Forensics Unit, the South Bound Brook Police Department, the Bridgewater Township Police Department, the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office, the New Jersey State Police Office of Forensic Sciences and the New Jersey Regional Medical Examiner’s Office.
The State was represented Somerset County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Robert J. Hawkes and Somerset County Assistant Prosecutor Nicole A. McGrath, with the assistance of Assistant Paralegal Supervisor Ellen Kimmel-Kirschbaum.