Friend ad­mits role in WC mur­der

On­ray Marchant Win­field pleads guilty to third-de­gree mur­der, rob­bery and con­spir­acy

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Michael P. Rellahan mrel­la­han@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @Ch­escoCourtNews on Twit­ter

WEST CHESTER >> Back­stab­ber. Be­trayer. Dis­loyal friend. Liar

Those were the terms that fam­ily mem­bers of a mur­dered 17-year-old West Chester high school stu­dent used Fri­day to de­scribe the char­ac­ter of the skate­board­ing mate whose know­ing ruse led the teenager to the trap that would end in his death, dur­ing the sen­tenc­ing pro­ceed­ing for the young man in Com­mon Pleas Court.

“You were his friend,” said Idalla Capo to de­fen­dant On­ray Marchant Win­field, re­fer­ring to her grand­son, Cris­tian “Freddy” San­ti­ago, who was shot to death dur­ing a sham drug deal en­gi­neered by a friend of Win­field’s in Au­gust 2015. “He trusted you. You skated to­gether. You laughed to­gether. You com­mis­er­ated to­gether.”

But Capo said Win­field had be­trayed San­ti­ago by telling him he wanted to buy mar­i­juana from him, all the time know­ing that he was be­ing tar­geted for a gun­point rob­bery. The crime ended

with a gun­shot wound to the chest and San­ti­ago’s body dumped by the side of a quiet East Brad­ford road­way.

Win­field, 20, of West Chester, ad­mit­ted his part in the scheme and pleaded guilty to third-de­gree mur­der, rob­bery, and con­spir­acy. He was sen­tenced to a state prison term of eight to 16 years, fol­lowed by 10 years pro­ba­tion.

Fight­ing back tears, Win­field tried to apol­o­gize to San­ti­ago’s fam­ily dur­ing a brief state­ment to the court. “I am ex­tremely sorry for ev­ery­thing I have put you through, the agony, the pain, and the lone­li­ness,” Win­field said. “I am truly sorry. I do think about what I’ve done ev­ery day. I should have been a bet­ter friend and not let him go (to the rob­bery). But I was only think­ing of my­self at the time.”

The pros­e­cu­tor in the case, Deputy District At­tor­ney Thomas Ost-Prisco, told Judge James P. MacEl­ree II, who is pre­sid­ing over the cases, that although there was enough ev­i­dence in the case to con­vict Win­field of sec­ond-de­gree mur­der, for which he would face a manda­tory life sen­tence with­out pa­role, his of­fice had de­cided to al­low him to plead guilty to the lesser third-de­gree mur­der charge, a course he said some in San­ti­ago’s fam­ily dis­agreed with.

Ost-Prisco told the judge that Win­field, although cen­tral to the over­all scheme that led to San­ti­ago’s death, had been the least cul­pa­ble of the five co-de­fen­dants. In ad­di­tion, he had agreed to co­op­er­ate with the pros­e­cu­tion and tes­tify against any of the de­fen­dants who go to trial.

Win­field’s at­tor­ney, Steven Jar­mon of Malvern, told MacEl­ree that he had spo­ken with his client over the months about pos­si­ble de­fense’s to the crime. But he said af­ter hear­ing a tape record­ing of a state­ment Win­field gave to West Chester po­lice he was sat­is­fied the pros­e­cu­tion could make out a case that would send the 20-year-old to state prison for life.

“That was some­thing that was made clear to him from the very be­gin­ning,” Jar­mon said. “I feel sat­is­fied that he knows what he is do­ing” by plead­ing guilty.

“Un­for­tu­nately, this is an­other ex­am­ple in a long line of cases in which a young man was mur­dered for a non­sen­si­cal rea­son,” said MacEl­ree II in ac­cept­ing the plea. “A life was taken for a fist-full of dol­lars and drugs.”

Capo’s elo­quent and heart-felt words came from a writ­ten state­ment ad­dressed to MacEl­ree — one that she ac­knowl­edged she had read be­fore, and could pos­si­bly read again as oth­ers in­volved in the fa­tal shoot­ing ap­pear be­fore MacEl­ree for sen­tenc­ing.

“Five times we will do this and try to ex­press the sorry that lives in our hearts,” re­fer­ring to the num­ber of de­fen­dants in the case, one of which has al­ready pleaded guilty and one who is ex­pected to do so next week. “Five times we will be a voice for his life.”

Af­ter Capo spoke, San­ti­ago’s mother fol­lowed and stood be­fore MacEl­ree to ex­press her feel­ings about the death of her son and Win­field’s part in it. She, too, laid blame at his feet for pur­pose­fully lead­ing him into the trap that had been set and then later de­ceiv­ing her about her son’s death.

“I would like to ask On­ray, ‘Why?’“said Marisol Gar­cia-Nieves of West Chester, dressed in black and read­ing from a pre­pared state­ment. “Why would you set Cris­tian up to rob him? He was sup­posed to be your friend,” the two of them shar­ing a pas­sion for skate­board­ing at lo­cal skat­ing parks.

She de­scribed go­ing to look for Win­field at the West Chester Wawa where he worked at night to see whether he knew of her son’s where­abouts. He de­nied know­ing any­thing, but told her he would call her if he heard any­thing, then gave her his phone num­ber. She said he then went to the po­lice to help them find San­ti­ago. “But On­ray al­ready knew that Cris­tian was dead.”

“Now I know he was only try­ing to cover up his in­volve­ment,” she said. The plan to rob San­ti­ago would have fallen apart if Win­field had warned him to stay away. The oth­ers knew that they needed him to com­plete the plan.

“I hope for his fam­ily and his mother that he learns from his mis­take,” she said. “I will miss Cris­tian ev­ery day of my life.”

Ac­cord­ing to Ost-Prisco, the mur­der in­volved four oth­ers be­sides Win­field. It be­gan with Ger­ald My­ers, Win­field’s friend, who spot­ted San­ti­ago walk­ing on West Wash­ing­ton Street in the af­ter­noon of Aug. 20, 2015. Know­ing the teenager was sell­ing mar­i­juana, My­ers said he wanted to rob him of drugs and cash, and asked for Win­field’s help in lur­ing him to site where he and two of his cousins, Bryon Stevens, of Val­ley and Dar­rell Wood­ward, could way­lay him.

In a state­ment to po­lice, Win­field did not of­fer an ex­pla­na­tion as to why My­ers had a grudge against San­ti­ago or wanted to harm him. But he said that af­ter talk­ing about the plot with Win­field that af­ter­noon, My­ers came to a house on West Wash­ing­ton where he was vis­it­ing a girl­friend, Colle­sha Miller, and an­nounced that it was “time to do this.”

Win­field then con­tacted San­ti­ago via Twit­ter and asked him if he could get a “griz­zle,” street drug code for a gram of mar­i­juana. Ac­cord­ing to the crim­i­nal com­plaint filed in the case, Win­field told de­tec­tives that San­ti­ago agreed to meet him at the LukOil con­ve­nience store at the in­ter­sec­tion of West Wayne Av­enue and Han­num Av­enue, not far away.

Win­field then told My­ers the plan had been made, and saw My­ers leave the house wear­ing a black puffy coat, a red ban­danna, a black shirt, black pants and black shoes, say­ing he was leav­ing to meet his cousins, one of whom had a gun, he said.

Ac­cord­ing to his state­ment, Win­field said that My­ers re­turned about 15 min­utes later and an­nounced that San­ti­ago was dead. He said that My­ers pants were blood­ied, and that he was no longer wear­ing the black coat or ban­danna.

San­ti­ago’s life­less body was found at ap­prox­i­mately 10:20 p.m. on the side of the road in the 700 block of Hills­dale Road, a block or so west of the Chester County Art As­so­ci­a­tion, near the Brad­ford Square town­house devel­op­ment. A pass­ing mo­torist had alerted po­lice to the body, think­ing it may have been a pedes­trian who had been struck while walk­ing on the un­lighted stretch of road.

He had been shot once in the chest , al­legedly by Wood­ward, and was pro­nounced dead at the scene by med­i­cal per­son­nel from Good Fel­low­ship Am­bu­lance and Medic 91.

Capo said it re­mained a mys­tery to her fam­ily why some­one like her grand­son, who had never been in trou­ble, could have de­cided to be­gin sell­ing mar­i­juana, which ul­ti­mately led to his death.

“He stayed away from drugs,” she told MacEl­ree. “He stayed close to home. We don’t know how he got in­volved in a lifestyle he al­ways ex­pressed he wanted no part of. There were some red flags, but we mis­read them.”

In Oc­to­ber, Miller pleaded guilty to mur­der and rob­bery charges and was sen­tenced to 12 ½ to 25 years in state prison. Stevens, 20 of the 400 block of Harry Road, Coatesville, is sched­uled to ap­pear in court next Wed­nes­day for an an­tic­i­pated plea. My­ers ad Wood­ward are await­ing trial.

“I am truly sorry. I do think about what I’ve done ev­ery day. I should have been a bet­ter friend and not let him go (to the rob­bery). But I was only think­ing of my­self at the time.” — On­ray Marchant Win­field

On­ray Marchant Win­field

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