Teen charged with murder for role in home invasion
NORRISTOWN >> A Pottstown teenager, originally charged with robbery for his role in a home invasion that resulted in the gunshot slaying of a borough woman, saw charges upgraded to murder and will be prosecuted as an adult.
Camren Xavier Williams, 17, of the 800 block of North Franklin Street, was arraigned Friday before District Court Judge Edward C Kropp Sr. on charges of criminal homicide, robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery and possessing an instrument of crime in connection with the 6:40 p.m. Nov. 18 gunshot slaying of Sylvia Williams, 38, inside a residence in the 300 block of North Washington Street.
With the general homicide charge, authorities alleged Camren Williams intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or negligently caused the death of Sylvia Williams. The general homicide charge potentially could include various grades of homicide including second- and third-degree murder or manslaughter.
Camren Williams and the victim were not related, officials said.
With the charges, authorities alleged Camren Williams was an accomplice of Aaron Joseph Taylor, 18, of the first block of West Second Street, Pottstown, who allegedly fired the fatal shot. Camren Williams also was armed with a gun during the home invasion, according to court documents, and is charged with homicide under accomplice liability theories.
Taylor previously was arraigned on charges of secondand third-degree murder, robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery and possessing an instrument of crime in connection with the alleged incident.
Taylor and Camren Williams each face preliminary hearings on the charges at 1 p.m. Dec. 18 before Kropp.
Second-degree murder, a killing committed during the course of another felony, such as robbery, carries a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment upon conviction. Third-degree murder, a killing committed with malice, carries a possible maximum sentence of 20 to 40 years in prison.
At the time of Taylor’s arrest, District Attorney Kevin R. Steele said tips from the public as well as video surveillance cameras in the home and in the borough helped solve the crime.
“If people are thinking
about committing crimes in Pottstown, they should know that there is an intricate camera system throughout the borough. Commit a crime and count on it being captured on camera,” said Steele, who announced the arrests with borough Police Chief Michael J. Markovich.
An investigation began about 6:43 p.m. Nov. 18 when borough police responded to the residence to investigate the activation of a security alarm. As officers arrived at the scene, they observed a male jump from the second floor of the home and he told police that his girlfriend, Sylvia Williams, was injured and still inside the residence.
When police entered the residence they found Sylvia Williams, with a bleeding wound to her head, dead in a second-floor front bedroom.
At the time they arrived on the scene, police also observed a light-colored compact car leaving the area at a high rate of speed, according to the criminal complaint filed by county Detective John Wittenberger and Pottstown Detective Mark Wickersham.
An autopsy determined Sylvia Williams died from a gunshot wound to the head and her death was ruled a homicide.
Sylvia Williams’s boyfriend told detectives he was on the second-floor of the residence when he heard yelling. As he started to descend the stairwell to the first-floor, Sylvia Williams’s boyfriend observed a male, wearing a mask and armed with an automatic handgun, according to the arrest affidavit.
According to detectives, the victim’s boyfriend said he ran to his bedroom, which also was occupied by the victim, and he closed the bedroom door, holding it closed with his feet while lying on the floor. Sylvia Williams then handed her boyfriend an alarm remote and a panic alarm was activated, detectives alleged.
Sylvia Williams then assisted her boyfriend in holding the door shut.
“(The boyfriend) stated the suspect tried to get into the bedroom by striking the door before (the boyfriend) heard one gunshot,” Wittenberger and Wickersham alleged in the arrest affidavit.
The boyfriend reported it “got quiet,” following the gunshot and he noticed the victim was not moving and was bleeding from her head, according to the arrest affidavit.
Three other people, including two juveniles, also were inside the home at the time of the shooting, court documents indicate. One of the witnesses, a repairman who was changing the front door lock, told detectives two armed males entered through the door while he was changing the lock.
One of the masked men pointed a gun at the repairman and stated, “stay where you are,” according to the criminal complaint. The repairman stated he heard a commotion upstairs and heard a “pop,” court papers indicate. The two armed males then fled the residence.
A witness told detectives he overhead one suspect utter, “there ain’t nothing here” as they left the residence.
Detectives learned Sylvia Williams’s boyfriend had a home surveillance system that captured the home invasion and shooting on videotape and photographs of the suspects were released to the public as authorities sought to identify the alleged culprits.
A review of surveillance footage from Pottstown street cameras revealed a light-colored Honda Civic was observed in the area at the time of the homicide. Detectives traced the vehicle to a Reading address and subsequently linked Camren Williams to the vehicle.
When he was interviewed by detectives, Camren Williams admitted to participating in the home invasion robbery with Taylor. The teenager claimed he and Taylor targeted the residence because they believed the home was that of a “big drug dealer,” however, they left without any cash or property, according to court documents.
Camren Williams told detectives he was armed with a BB pistol and Taylor was armed with a Ruger .22-caliber pistol. A projectile retrieved from the victim’s body was consistent with that of a .22-caliber, detectives alleged.
Camren Williams told detectives he remained on the first-floor of the residence while Taylor went upstairs. The teenager said he watched Taylor fire a single gunshot while on the second-floor stairway, according to the criminal complaint.
The teenager told police that during the getaway he discarded the pistol, shoes, jacket and the T-shirt which was used as a mask to cover his face, according to the arrest affidavit.