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Thursday, 8 April 2010

Keenan "Buddy" Wideman, 17, a member of the Bloods street gang, appeared Wednesday in juvenile court in Camden


10:48 |

Keenan "Buddy" Wideman, 17, a member of the Bloods street gang, appeared Wednesday in juvenile court in Camden, where a judge ruled he would be tried as an adult for his alleged part in the February slayings of Michael "Doc Money" Hawkins, 23, and his girlfriend, Muriah Ashley Huff, 18.Wideman could face life in prison as an adult, rather than 20 years as a juvenile.He is among 10 people, including three other juveniles, charged with murder after a violent frenzy spanning several hours in Camden when Hawkins was bound, gagged, repeatedly beaten, stabbed and shot, and his girlfriend beaten and choked.Prosecutors are seeking to try all the juveniles as adults, including the youngest, a 14-year-old Camden girl, scheduled to appear in court Thursday.Cherry Hill defense attorney Michael W. Kahn said Wideman told authorities that he had punched and kicked Hawkins, suspected of being a Crips member, but never stabbed or shot him. Wideman also is charged in the death of Huff, a cosmetology student at Burlington County Institute of Technology."It's clear the gun and the knife were not in his (Wideman's) hand," Kahn said in an interview after the hearing, adding later that Wideman is "remorseful. He is a child; he is scared."
During Wednesday's hearing, Wideman told Judge Angelo DiCamillo that he agreed with his defense attorney that it was not in his best interest to fight the move to adult court based on "overwhelming" evidence linking him to the crime.During hours of videotaped interviews, about 20 people - most of whom were in the Berkley Street apartment at some point during the slayings or cleanup - have stitched a story together for prosecutors, Kahn said.The gang's leader, identified as Kuasheim "Presto" Powell, 24, had been concerned about other gang members when he arrived at the apartment with several others, including Wideman, as his muscle, Kahn said.Hawkins, already badly beaten, was in a closet, accused of denying his association with the Crips after he started associating with the Bloods, sources said. Powell, authorities said, allegedly shot Hawkins several times in the head and choked Huff.Although as many as 19 people were in the house, not all participated in the slayings, Kahn said. Some, however, lifted blood-soaked carpet, scrubbed the walls, and dug the grave in the snow-covered ground behind the rowhouse. Police were tipped off Feb. 25 about the corpses, eventually leading to the 10 arrests.Powell was the last person captured last month after he fled to California. Authorities are having him brought back to Camden.During the attack, Huff was taken to another room, where she was beaten by several people, authorities said. The 14-year-old girl, who dated one of the other juveniles charged, was among those who repeatedly beat Huff, they said. She is scheduled to appear in juvenile court Thursday morning.
Wideman's hearing Wednesday was the second court hearing in which authorities linked the deaths to the Bloods. Assistant Camden County Prosecutor Tim Chatten requested that Wideman receive protective custody in the Camden County Jail, including segregation from other Bloods gang members. The teen said little during the hearing, in which his mother wept as she learned her son would not remain in a juvenile facility."I just don't understand why he can't stay where he's at. Why can't he stay at the youth detention center?" Sharondah Duckett asked the judge, insisting her son has never been in trouble before.DiCamillo assured Duckett her son would be required to attend classes as he did in the juvenile facility and noted the teen will turn 18 in September.Duckett sat with two relatives at the hearing, including the boy's uncle, Teril Duckett, who said Wideman aspired to attend college on a sports scholarship or join the military. He played basketball and ran track at Pennsauken High School, the uncle said.Kahn said he hoped Wideman would be given the opportunity to plead to a lesser charge, potentially shaving time off a prison sentence, because he did not resist the move to adult court, and his participation in the crime was minimal.
Before sheriff's deputies returned the shackled Wideman to a holding cell, Judge DiCamillo said, "Keenan, I wish you the best of luck."


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