Former Bloods gangster testifies against alleged killer Masiyah Howard
A former Bloods gangster who pleaded guilty in 2014 for his role in a large-scale racketeering case testified Thursday at Masiyah Howard’s murder trial, saying the alleged killer had talked to him at the county jail about having shot someone.
When Kenneth Williams was incarcerated in the same jail pod with Howard three years ago, “He asked me for a suit,” Williams said Thursday on the witness stand. “He said he was in there shooting somebody and he’s basically trying to fight the case. … He didn’t tell me who he shot.”
Howard, 21, of Trenton, is accused of shooting and killing 25-year-old Louis Bryan Alvarez in the city’s Chambersburg neighborhood on Feb. 26, 2013. Police arrested him days later on unrelated robbery charges and then gained probable cause to charge him with murder and weapons offenses.
Authorities say Howard went to Alvarez’s Fulton Street residence to confront him and then fired a shot through a glass window after the victim had slammed the door shut about 9:50 p.m. Trenton cops arrived on scene to find Alvarez unresponsive, suffering from a gunshot wound to the torso. Medics rushed Alvarez to Capital Health Regional Medical Center, where he died about an hour later that evening.
Howard was 17 at the time of his arrest but is being tried as an adult.
Williams has decided to come forward and testify against Howard, but he struggled on Thursday to give a clear explanation on why, exactly, he is cooperating with the authorities in the murder case.
Williams, 25, of Trenton, was one of 20 defendants indicted in 2014 on racketeering and gang criminality charges in connection with an alleged criminal enterprise involving Bloods gang members who sought to gain money and power for the enterprise.
In June 2014, Williams took a plea deal in the Operation Checkmate racketeering case that allowed him to plead guilty to one count of second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. The deal called for him to serve a minimum of three years but no more than seven years in prison and required him to cooperate against some of his co-defendants in the racketeering case.
Shortly after reaching the plea deal, Williams was conditionally released from the Mercer County Correction Center with an electronic-monitoring device placed on his ankle pending sentencing. While out on bail, he was re-arrested on several additional occasions but remains free pending sentencing for his crime of possessing a firearm for an unlawful purpose.
Steven Lember, Howard’s defense attorney, during cross-examination on Thursday questioned Williams about his criminal history and asked him if he had cleaned up his act.
“Yes, sir,” Williams responded shortly after acknowledging he had pleaded guilty in 2012 to lying to a police officer.
Mercer County Assistant Prosecutor Heather Hadley on Thursday asked Williams about his 2014 jail interaction with Howard, who was known by the nickname Chicken.
“He said he shot him,” Williams said of Howard. “I don’t know where he said he shot him at, but he said he shot him. He didn’t give no description, but I know it was over some type of Xbox and I know some other dude was there, so I don’t really know who did what. You feel me? He said dude got shot.”
“Did he say he shot the man?” Hadley asked.
“Yeah,” Williams responded.
Howard has pleaded not guilty to all counts. His murder trial is scheduled to resume 11 a.m. next Tuesday before Mercer County Superior Court Judge Andrew Smithson.