After 11 days and 30 witnesses in a labyrinthine trial in the slaying of two Bucks County teenagers, the fate of their accused killers went into the hands of a jury Wednesday.
Zyisean McDuffie and Tommy Ballard, both 19, were killed last May 4. Their final moments were writ large during the marathon of testimony, often accompanied by emotional tension from the victims’ and defendants’ families.
“Families are torn apart, lives are changed, and for what? Because you grew up in one neighborhood vs. another?" Deputy District Attorney Antonetta Stancu said. "It has to stop, and the only way is for people to be held accountable for their actions.”
Joseph Williams, 19, and Gary Goddard Sr., 44, are charged in the deaths. Williams faces two counts of criminal homicide, and Goddard was charged with attempted homicide because a bullet he fired into McDuffie’s head did not kill the teen, according to investigators.
The jury impaneled before Judge Alan M. Rubenstein in Doylestown will begin deliberating early Thursday.
The shooting came during a fight on a front lawn in Bristol Township’s Winder Village section. Two warring neighborhood groups had come to watch as their mutual friends were preparing to attend the sophomore-junior prom that night at Harry S. Truman High School.
One side included Williams and Goddard’s son, also named Gary. The other group included McDuffie, Ballard, and another teen, Jahmir Wilson. Heated words escalated into a fight, with one witness saying she saw McDuffie swing at the younger Goddard.
Stancu presented evidence Wednesday that the younger Goddard also was armed — bullets from an unrecovered gun were found in McDuffie’s body — and that McDuffie attacked the teen only after seeing him reach for the firearm.
Meanwhile, Williams and Wilson were locked in a dispute of their own, during which Williams was seen pulling a gun out of his waistband and firing it. Forensic analysts said bullets from Williams’ gun mortally wounded McDuffie and Ballard. Amid the chaos, the elder Goddard walked up to McDuffie as he lay prone and shot him in the head, according to police.
Goddard said Wednesday that his son had a “history” with other teens in the shooting. He said they had been consistently intimidating his son at Truman and had attacked him at a school basketball game.
On the night of the prom, after hearing gunshots, Goddard ran down the street with his .32-caliber revolver, which he was licensed to carry, he said. In front of a home, he found McDuffie standing over his son, attacking him. Goddard said he fired at McDuffie after he ignored his commands to “get off” his son.
“I was just thinking, where’s my son," Goddard said. "I thought my son was literally dead or dying.”
Stancu disputed that testimony, saying Goddard was the first person to mention an alleged attack by McDuffie.
She noted that surveillance footage played in court showed the younger Goddard chasing another teen with a gun drawn. Also, the younger Goddard — nicknamed “Statik” — had been reprimanded in the past for carrying guns, including one that he had reported stolen to Bristol Township police.
The defense had spent the preceding days of testimony criticizing the investigation into the shooting.
Williams’ attorney, Daniel Schatz, tried to shift the blame from his client Wednesday. He told jurors that while Williams was armed and fired at Wilson, it was a “warning shot" using a gun that has not been recovered. Another teen present that night, Schatz said, fired the fatal shots at Ballard and McDuffie using the gun police found nearby.
Goddard’s attorney, Blake Jackman, highlighted the five-month delay between when the shooting occurred and when some witnesses were interviewed by detectives. The statements given to investigators were often contradictory, he said, adding that he believed prosecutors “spun together the parts they liked” and discarded the rest.