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Charges Amended in Bristol Double-Homicide; Teen Defendant Now Accused of Fatally Shooting Both Victims

July 19, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contacts: Antonetta Stancu, 215.348.6340, astancu@buckscounty.org 
                Thomas C. Gannon, 215.348.6461, tcgannon@buckscounty.org

Joseph Williams Gary Goddard
     Joseph Williams                 Gary Goddard

A 19-year-old man has now been charged with firing both fatal shots in the May 4 shootings that killed two young men in Bristol Township.

Prosecutors on Wednesday amended the criminal complaints in the deaths of Zyisean McDuffie, 19, and Tommy Ballard, 19, after further investigation, including ballistics and autopsy results.

Joseph Williams, of the 2100 block of Veterans Highway in Levittown, now stands accused of fatally shooting both men.

Williams faces two counts of criminal homicide, one count of attempted murder and aggravated assault for allegedly firing at a third man, as well as illegal firearms possession, recklessly endangering another person and possession of instruments of crime.

Gary Goddard, 48, of the 1700 block of Newport Road, Croydon, was originally accused of killing McDuffie. He now is charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault for allegedly shooting McDuffie.

Goddard also is charged with firing into an occupied structure, recklessly endangering another person, and possession of instruments of crime.

The defendants were ordered held for trial on all of those charges Wednesday after a lengthy preliminary hearing before Magisterial District Judge Leonard J. Brown in Bristol Township.

McDuffie and Ballard, both of Lower Bucks County, were fatally shot around 7 p.m. during a confrontation in front of a home in the 900 block of Elmhurst Avenue. A third man, identified as Jahmier Wilson, was shot at by Williams before fleeing, prosecutors allege.

McDuffie and Ballard were taken to Jefferson Torresdale Hospital, where McDuffie was pronounced dead and Ballard died soon after arriving.

Authorities originally charged Goddard with murdering McDuffie after witnesses reported seeing him shoot the victim in the head. However, an autopsy showed that while the bullet did penetrate McDuffie’s skull, it did not penetrate the brain, and that the victim instead died of a gunshot from a revolver that Williams allegedly fired.

The melee began as friends and relatives were taking pre-prom photos outside the home of April Coleman on Elmhurst Avenue. Among those gathered were Goddard’s son, Williams, and at least three other young male friends of Coleman’s teenage son, who was inside getting dressed for the prom that night at Harry S Truman High School.

The young men were eating Chinese food in the yard when a gray sedan carrying McDuffie, Ballard and Wilson pulled up, Coleman told police in a recorded interview played in court Wednesday.

McDuffie, Coleman said, came over and hugged her, saying her daughter, who also was going to the prom, looked nice. Ballard, she said, also said hello but seemed standoffish and paced for a while in the street.

Wilson beckoned Williams over to talk to him, Coleman said, and began pointing a finger in Williams’ face.

Then she heard another of the young men say, “We can fight, but not in front of Miss April,” referring to Coleman.

Coleman said she then saw McDuffie swinging his fist at her son’s group of friends as Williams stepped back and began firing a gun at Wilson. “I started screaming, `My God, there’s kids out here!’” Coleman said in the interview.

As she gathered children and directed them away from the gunfire, Coleman said, she saw Wilson crawling away in the grass.

She said she then saw an older man, whom she later identified as Goddard, cross the street with a gun in his hand and start shooting at McDuffie, who fell to the ground. Goddard then called to his son before they drove away in a truck, she said.

In addition to firing at Wilson, Williams also fired fatal shots at McDuffie and Ballard, the charging documents say. An errant bullet from a gun recovered at Goddard’s house also passed through Coleman’s residence, where at least five people were inside, including a 3-year-old child, court documents say.

Williams fled after the shootings, witnesses said. Bristol Township Police Officer Dennis Leighton testified that he arrested Williams after seeing him running, shirtless, through the brush behind a nearby home on Winder Drive.

Leighton said he later reviewed surveillance video that showed Williams and two friends running behind a house on Winder Drive. One of the friends later told police that Williams had gone near a grill in the yard, Bristol Township Detective Jason Callahan testified.

With the homeowner’s permission, Callahan said, police recovered a .38-caliber Rossi revolver from inside the grill.

Bullets matched to that gun killed both victims, according to a probable cause addendum filed Wednesday.

McDuffie suffered five gunshot wounds, but died from a wound that struck an artery near his kidney, an autopsy found. Ballard, shot twice, died from a lower chest wound that struck his liver and kidney.

Goddard was arrested four days after the shootings. Both he and Williams have been held without bail at the Bucks County Correctional Facility.

Defense attorney John Fioravanti urged Brown to dismiss the murder charges against Williams. “No one saw him shoot anybody, except at Mr. Wilson,” he argued, adding that no one saw Williams holding the .38 caliber gun identified as the murder weapon.

Goddard’s attorney, Blake Jackman, cast the victims as the aggressors in the incident, and claimed Goddard fired only after seeing McDuffie pummeling Goddard’s son. He said there was no specific intent to kill shown, because ballistics tests only linked one wound to Goddard’s gun.

Deputy District Attorney Antonetta Stancu countered Jackman’s argument by saying, “It’s baffling to me to argue that putting a bullet in the head of a young man is anything other than attempted murder.”

As for Fioravanti’s claims, Stancu said the evidence is clear that Williams “fired multiple times, and he killed two people.”

“We have the murder weapon, and we have the bullets, your honor,” Stancu said. “We know where the bullets came from and we know where the gun came from, and who was holding it.”

Brown upheld the charges. Both defendants are scheduled for a formal arraignment on Aug. 17 in Bucks County Common Pleas Court.

The case was investigated by the Bristol Township Police Department and the Bucks County Detectives, with assistance from the Montgomery County Detectives. It is being prosecuted by Stancu and Deputy District Attorney Thomas C. Gannon.

Criminal charges are allegations subject to proof in court. The defendants are presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

 

 

Office of the District Attorney
Bucks County Justice Center
100 N. Main Street
Doylestown, PA 18901 
Phone: 215-348-6344 
Fax: 215-348-6299

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