A South Jersey man, on trial in the stabbing death of a man moments after the Eagles’ Super Bowl win, testified Tuesday that the episode began when his son made a insulting remark about the team during a victory celebration in their neighborhood.
Supreme Life, 57, of Lumberton, described the events that led to the fatal encounter from the witness stand in a Mount Holly courtroom. Life, a former landscaper, roofer, and Army veteran, said he was outside his home celebrating the Eagles’ win when his son, Antoine Ketler, 33, a Dallas Cowboys fan, returned home from shopping.
Life testified that amid the cheers and ringing of cowbells, he ribbed his son about being a Dallas fan. Ketler replied, “F— the Eagles,” Life said, adding that he then went inside his home.
Two New York men who were driving by heard the remark and attacked Ketler, Life said. He said he then went back outside to his son’s aid. Life said he stabbed Moriah Walker, 26, of Brooklyn, in self-defense. “I was overpowered,” he said.
Walker knocked him to the ground, and punched and kicked him, Life said. Walker was a larger and younger man, he said, and he couldn’t get back up, so he pulled his pocket knife from his belt. “I was trying to separate myself from him," Life said. "My life was in danger, and I was worried about my son.”
Walker died from a stab wound to the heart at Cooper University Hospital in Camden. He also had a stab wound to the chest, a leg, and an arm.
Life said the two were wrestling on the ground and when Walker rolled on top of him “the weight of his body was on the knife.”
Life, who was known as Charles Hoskins before he changed his name for personal and religious reasons, is also charged with attempted murder for stabbing Walker’s friend, Raheem Williams, 23, of Queens, in the abdomen. Life said that after he freed himself from Walker, he saw that his son and Williams were still punching each other, and then heard his wife shout, “There’s a gun. Gun." He said that he tried to pull Williams off his son and during the tussle stabbed Williams too.
Life testified later that he never saw a gun.
Walker and Williams, who had attended a Super Bowl party a few houses away, were in the car to leave when they overheard Ketler insult the Eagles, according to Life.
“I saw the brake lights come on, and the car backed up," Life testified in answer to questions posed by his lawyer, Michael Riley. Life said he then went back inside his home so he could find out who had been named the game’s MVP. Shortly after, Life said, his wife, Linda, yelled that their son was being attacked by two men. He said he ran out to help.
Ketler was also charged with murder and attempted murder, but Superior Court Judge Charles Delehey dismissed the murder charge on Tuesday outside of the presence of the jury. Delehey agreed with Ketler’s attorney, Anthony Aldorasi, that there was no evidence that Ketler had a knife or stabbed anyone. However, the judge ruled the attempted murder charge will remain because Ketler was involved in the fight.
As the trial continued Tuesday, Ketler told the judge he would not testify.
Ketler is one of Life’s four children and had been a wrestling star at Pemberton High School, Life testified. Ketler also won an athletic scholarship to Delaware State College, said Life, who had coached youth wrestling and football.
When Life was initially questioned by police about the fight, he said, he didn’t mention Ketler “because I didn’t want him to be involved.” After the fight, Ketler had returned to his home before police arrived at the scene.
Life said he wanted to take full responsibility for the fight, but testified that he “didn’t intend to kill anyone.”
Under cross-examination by Burlington County Assistant Prosecutor Robert VanGilst, Life admitted he initially lied to police but did not say he stabbed anyone.
In testimony last week, Niani Skinner, Williams’ girlfriend, said she accompanied Williams and Walker to the Super Bowl party and was in the car when the fight began. She said the two men got out because someone had punched or kicked the vehicle and they wanted “to check it out.”
She also testified that the fight went on for a while and that at one point she put her hands around Ketler’s neck to get him to release her boyfriend. She said that stopped the fight.