By Olivia Rizzo | NJ.com|
Three Trenton men involved in the murder of a U.S. Army veteran seven years ago were sentenced to prison on Friday during a hearing which saw the mother of a one of the suspects hug the mother of the victim.
Dardar Paye, 33, a Liberian immigrant living in Maplewood, was kidnapped, robbed and shot to death in the basement of a Monmouth Street home in Trenton in 2011.
Danuweli Keller was convicted of murder, possession of firearm for an unlawful purpose, eluding, tampering with evidence and tampering with a witness in June 2017 and later sentenced to 61 years in state prison.
His co-defendants – Mack Edwards, 31; Adbtawab Kiazolu, 29; and Phobus Sullivan, 34, all pleaded guilty to lesser, related charges in December.
Edwards was tried alongside Keller, but the jury was hung on all accounts in his case. He then pleaded guilty to first-degree kidnapping.
He was sentenced in accordance with his plea agreement, to 11 years in state prison, subject to the No Early Release Act (NERA), meaning he must serve 85 percent of his sentence before he’s eligible for parole.
During his opportunity to address the court, Edwards addressed Paye’s mother and apologized for what happened, saying he considered Paye a friend. “I want him to take this as a lesson and come out a better man,” Mack Edwards mother Katherine Edwards said when addressing the court.
Katherine Edward then turned to Paye’s mother and tearfully commended her for being able to sit through every day of the trial. And she told her to pray to God in order to help her move on – and the two women briefly hugged.
Sullivan also pleaded guilty to first-degree kidnapping. It was his home where the killing took place and he admitted to restraining Paye and driving his body across state line into Pennsylvania.
He was sentenced to 11 years in prison, also subject to NERA. This sentence is to be served consecutively to the 20 years he is currently serving for an unrelated second-degree manslaughter charge.
Kiazolu pleaded guilty to second-degree desecrating human remains. He was a passenger in the car where Paye’s body was found and was sentenced to a full 10 years years in state prison.
Paye’s mother told all three of the defendants to use their time in prison to repent and ask God for forgiveness.
The last remaining co-defendant William Brown, 32, will be tried separately because of statements he gave to police implicating himself and his co-defendants.
He is currently serving a 50-year prison sentence for the September 2008 slaying of Tracy Lamont Crews.