Daily Local News (West Chester, PA)

Man accused of role in Pottstown fatal shooting pleads not guilty, faces a trial

Kahseem Williams accused in Aug. 28, 2022, fatal shooting of Dakari Rome in Pottstown

- By Carl Hessler Jr. chessler@pottsmerc.com

A Philadelph­ia man entered not guilty pleas to homicide-related charges in connection with the alleged gunshot slaying of a man during what prosecutor­s said was a botched robbery attempt of another male in Pottstown.

Kahseem Williams, 18, of the 1500 block of West Allegheny Avenue, waived his formal arraignmen­t hearing in Montgomery County Court on Friday and entered the not guilty pleas to charges of second- and third-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, aggravated assault, robbery, possessing an instrument of crime, possession of a prohibited firearm and possession of a firearm by a minor in connection with the alleged 10 p.m. Aug. 28, 2022, shooting death of 25-yearold Dakari Rome and the shooting and wounding of a 17-year-old male, both from Pottstown.

Jahme Barnes, 17, of the 1000 block of West Cambria Street, Philadelph­ia, who faces identical charges for her alleged role in the incident, previously entered not guilty pleas to the charges.

Judge William R. Carpenter said he will meet with prosecutor­s and the lawyers for both Barnes and Williams next month to schedule a trial date for the pair. Barnes and Williams remain in the county jail without bail while awaiting trial.

Assistant District Attorney Gabrielle Hughes and co-prosecutor Robert Waeltz Jr. are prosecutin­g the case.

Defense lawyer Michael Walker represents Williams. Defense lawyer Douglas B. Breidenbac­h Jr. represents Barnes.

A conviction of seconddegr­ee murder, which is a killing committed during the course of a felony such as robbery, carries a mandatory prison term of life imprisonme­nt. A conviction of third-degree murder, which is a killing committed with malice, carries a possible maximum sentence of 20 to 40 years in prison.

Investigat­ors relied on witness statements and video surveillan­ce footage obtained from various cameras in the borough to identify the suspects and to uncover the alleged series of events that led up to the fatal shooting.

The investigat­ion began about 10:06 p.m. Aug. 28 when Pottstown police responded to a call of shots fired in the area of the 100 block of Grant Street and arriving officers observed bloodstain­s and several fired cartridge casings on Grant Street at Union Alley, according to the criminal complaint filed by county Detective Mark Minzola and Pottstown Detective Michael Glauner.

A 911 caller reported seeing a dark in color SUV parked on Grant Street at Union Alley at the time the gunshots were heard.

Moments later, police were notified that two gunshot victims had been transporte­d to Pottstown Hospital in separate private vehicles. Rome sustained a single gunshot wound to his chest and was pronounced dead by an emergency room doctor.

The investigat­ion determined Rome had been transporte­d to the hospital in his own dark in color SUV. Williams, who left the hospital prior to the arrival of police, left his name and cellphone number with hospital personnel after he assisted Rome into the emergency room, according to the criminal complaint.

The second victim, a 17-year-old male, sustained a single gunshot wound to his left hand and had been transporte­d to the hospital by his mother, detectives said. He was treated for the wound and released.

The investigat­ion determined Rome and the 17-year-old, who were friends, were “hanging out” with Williams and Barnes and an unidentifi­ed female in Rome’s Audi SUV, according to court papers. Barnes allegedly was driving the Audi with Rome in the front passenger seat, Williams in the rear passenger seat, and the 17-year-old boy in the rear middle seat.

The 17-year-old boy told detectives that when the group traveled to the area of Grant Street and Union Alley, Rome asked to see his gun and the teenager handed it to Rome, who then handed it to Williams, who passed it to Barnes, according to investigat­ors.

Barnes allegedly waved the firearm around while videotapin­g herself before she pointed the gun at the 17-year-old boy and said, “what else you got?” according to court documents.

As the 17-year-old boy reached for the firearm, Barnes fired a round that struck him in the left hand, detectives alleged.

The fired projectile passed through the 17-yearold victim’s hand and then struck Rome in the chest, according to the arrest affidavit.

The 17-year-old victim then fled from the vehicle and ran into Union Alley toward his residence and as he fled he “heard additional shots and saw sparks coming from the ground in the area where he was running,” Minzola and Glauner alleged. Authoritie­s alleged in court papers that once outside the vehicle Barnes handed the firearm to Williams, who fired several shots at the fleeing 17-yearold.

Detectives located four 9mm fired cartridge casings in the street at the intersecti­on of Union Alley and Grant Street, according to court documents.

Detectives alleged Barnes and Williams then got back into the Audi SUV and drove the injured Rome to the hospital emergency room.

An autopsy determined Rome’s cause of death was a gunshot wound to the chest and the manner of death was ruled homicide.

The forensic pathologis­t who performed the autopsy noted that the bullet entrance was consistent with the bullet having traveled through “an intermedia­te surface prior to impacting Rome,” according to the criminal complaint. The bullet traveled through Rome’s lung, aorta and lodged in his spine “which would have immediatel­y paralyzed the victim,” detectives wrote in court documents.

Rome’s mother called detectives on Aug. 29 and notified them that someone had returned her son’s vehicle and parked it on Rivendell Lane near her home. Detectives who processed the vehicle observed blood staining on the rear driver’s side seat and door as well as on the passenger side front seat. Detectives also recovered one 9mm fired cartridge casing between the driver’s seat and door, according to court papers.

The detectives’ observatio­ns of the recovered evidence located inside Rome’s Audi are consistent with the coroner’s findings that the fired projectile struck an “intermedia­te surface” prior to impacting Rome, according to the criminal complaint.

 ?? PHOTO BY CARL HESSLER JR. ?? Kahseem Williams, 18, is escorted by sheriff’s deputies from a Montgomery County courtroom after his arraignmen­t on homicide charges.
PHOTO BY CARL HESSLER JR. Kahseem Williams, 18, is escorted by sheriff’s deputies from a Montgomery County courtroom after his arraignmen­t on homicide charges.

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