Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson announced that a Somerset County Jury has found Michael Washington, 28, of Paterson, guilty in connection with the October 16, 2017, fatal shooting of William Roberts, 27, of Somerville.
Officials say 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.
Prosecutor Robertson stated that on the evening of October 16, 2017, at approximately 6:23 p.m., Bound Brook Borough Police responded to multiple 9-1-1 calls of shots fired in the area of 34 Church Street. Responding officers located victim William Roberts suffering from a gunshot wound to his stomach.
According to authorities, police, along with emergency medical personnel began life saving measures on Roberts who was then transported to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, New Brunswick, New Jersey, where he was pronounced dead.
A subsequent autopsy revealed that the projectile had struck victim Roberts’ abdominal aorta, causing him to bleed to death internally.
Authorities stated that detectives assigned to the Bound Brook Borough Police Department and the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit responded to conduct the investigation. Three shell casings and two live rounds were found on Church Street. The investigation revealed that Michael Washington pulled out a handgun and fired multiple times at William Roberts, with one shot striking Roberts, causing his death.
According to authorities, on October 31, 2017, Washington was found taking refuge in a basement of a residence on Cherry Street and taken into custody. 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.
Officials say Washington has remained on detention in the Somerset County Jail since his October 31, 2017 arrest.
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 from the October 31, 2017 arrest, 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.