Police & Fire

Montclair Man Sentenced to 50 Years for Slaying Villanova Student


NEWARK, NJ Ernest Williams, 24, of Montclair, was sentenced on Monday to 50 years in New Jersey State Prison for killing Villanova student Brian Schiavetti, 21, of Ridgefield, Connecticut, says acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray. 

On Nov. 2 Williams was found guilty of aggravated manslaughter, felony murder, robbery, weapons offenses and conspiracy to distribute drugs for fatally shooting Schiavetti on July 22, 2012 in the hallway of a senior apartment building in Montclair. Williams was acquitted of murder.

At trial, Essex County Assistant Prosecutor Naazneen Khan, who tried the case with Assistant Prosecutor Caroline Oliveira, argued that Williams, an admitted drug dealer, lured Schiavetti to New Jersey to rob him. Schiavetti and his friend Connor Gore, came to New Jersey to purchase oxycodone pills. Schiavetti was introduced to Williams by Williams’s co-defendant, James Pitts, Jr., the son of Essex County undersheriff James Pitts.

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Pitts and Schiavetti met while they were attending Villanova University. Pitts lived a few doors down from Williams and had known him for about eight years at the time of the homicide.

Pitts testified for the state and was sentenced to one year in county jail for his role.

Monday, Superior Court Judge Carolyn Wright sentenced Williams to 50 years. Under the No Early Release Act, Williams must serve 85 percent of his sentence, 42 years and six months, before he is eligible for parole.

In imposing sentence, Wright noted that while Williams had no felony convictions as an adult, he had been arrested five times as a juvenile and been allowed to enter diversion programs. From the time he turned 18 years old in August 2009 until the time of the Schiavetti’s death in 2012, Williams was arrested 14 more times and was found guilty of disorderly persons offenses in municipal court on six occasions.   

Williams has already served 1,237 in jail. He will receive credit for that time.

“This is truly a tragic case. On July 22, 2012 when Ernest Williams killed Brian Schiavetti over $400, he ended the life of a promising young man and destroyed his own life as well,” said Khan. “Brian Schiavetti made a huge mistake coming to Montclair looking to buy drugs but he should not have had to pay for that with his life.’’

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