It took a jury four hours to seal the fate of Joey Williams and Gary Goddard, the two Bristol Township men whose gunplay last spring killed two other men.
Williams, 19, was found guilty Friday of two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Zyisean McDuffie and Tommy Ballard, both 19, as well as the attempted murder of a third teen, Jahmir Wilson. Williams fired at the teens with an illegal revolver on May 4 during a neighborhood dispute that rapidly escalated from insults to gunfire.
Goddard, 49, was found guilty of the attempted murder of McDuffie, whom he shot at point-blank range after the teen had been mortally wounded by Williams.
The two defendants were also convicted of related charges, including reckless endangerment and, for Williams, carrying a gun without a license. Both were taken into custody, and will await sentencing by Judge Alan M. Rubenstein.
The verdict sparked an animated reaction from the victims’ families, who triumphantly exclaimed, “Justice served,” and embraced Deputy District Attorney Antonetta Stancu outside the courtroom. All were overcome with emotion, including the veteran prosecutor.
“I think it’s been so clear that young men in these neighborhoods are getting a message that is wrong, and a message that clearly is affecting so many lives," Stancu said, "the lives of men who are the victims of this senseless behavior, the lives of men who witness it, and the lives of those loved ones who lose on both sides.
“So I certainly hope the message is sent,” she added. “I hope that this brings hope to those neighborhoods in knowing that the lives of their loved ones are valued and we’ll continue to fight for justice.”
Rubinstein, speaking after the verdict was read, offered a grim warning to the family members of the victims crowded into his courtroom in Doylestown. During his four-decade career in Bucks County, first as a prosecutor and then a judge, he’s heard cases about escalating violence between warring factions in the two neighborhoods that factored into this trial.
“This has to stop. Two young men, 19 years old, are cut down in the prime of life for no reason. None,” he said. "Unless someone, the community, steps up and takes this seriously, the streets of Bloomsdale and Winder Village, as they were before, will be littered with bodies and bullets.”
Williams was part of one group of teens hanging out at the house of a friend in Winder Village, watching as the teen and his sister prepared to attend the sophomore-junior prom that night at Harry S. Truman High School. He, along with Goddard’s son, were confronted by McDuffie, Ballard and Wilson, who were also friends with the teens heading to the dance.
Tensions between the group, rooted in disputes at the school and surrounding community, exploded. Witnesses saw Williams pull a revolver out of his waistband and fire wildly, the bullets narrowly missing Wilson and striking both McDuffie and Ballard.
McDuffie, while prone on the ground, was then confronted by the elder Goddard, who had heard the gunfire from his brother’s house nearby. He ran up to the scene with his own gun — a .32-caliber revolver — and shot McDuffie in the skull. Goddard testified that he did so to protect his son, who had “a history” with the other teens.