• Lynda Cohen

Four men charged with felony murder in Absecon motel shooting that killed two

Updated: May 4

Four men have been charged with felony murder, and three other people charged with gun and drug possession in connection with the fatal shootings of two men inside an Absecon motel last year. Diante Owens, 22, of Pleasantville, and Gerald Alvarez, 22, of Mays Landing, were found inside a room at the Red Roof Inn just before 5 a.m. March 1, 2015. Donnell Nicholas, 22, of Atlantic City, and Zackery Geckeler, 22, of Galloway Township, were taken to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center with gunshot wounds. Owens came to the hotel in his mother’s car, which was then used to drive at least one of the men to the hospital, his girlfriend previously said. The car was later found idling outside his mother’s home, empty but with blood stains inside, said Khadijah Faulkner, who has a young child with Owens. “I’m happy they have been working on the case and looking to find out what happened,” Faulkner said Thursday, after news of the arrests was made public. “I’m happy the guys he was involved with got what they deserved.” Nicholas, Brian Bennett. Aaquile Reeves and Tywan Dixon, along with Owens were engaged in the commission or attempted commission of a robbery when the shootings happened, according to the charges. The targets of the robbery were also allegedly armed, and engaged in drug dealing when the exchange of gunfire began. Bennett, 25, and Dixon, 22, both of Pleasantville, Reeves, 20, of Absecon, and Nicholas are charged with felony murder, robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, and gun charges in Alvarez’s killing. The four men are charged only with Alvarez’s killing since Owens was allegedly involved in the initial crime. Felony murder is any killing that happens during the commission of another crime, even if the death was unintentional and as long as the victim was not a participant in the underlying felony. Bennett was arrested Tuesday in Pleasantville without incident. Reeves was charged in the Atlantic County Justice Facility, where he was being held on an unrelated charge. Dixon and Nicholas remain at large. Anyone with information about their whereabouts is asked to call the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit at 609-909-7666. Geckeler, one of the men shot, along with Trevor Murray, 22, and Ashley Villari, 23, both of Mays Landing, are charged with possession of Xanax with intent to distribute, possession of a handgun during the commission of a drug offense, unlawful possession of a knife, possession of a handgun for an unlawful purpose and unlawful possession of a handgun. Murray was additionally charged with possession of a weapon by a convicted felon. He pleaded guilty to a fourth-degree marijuana possession charge in 2013, and was sentenced to two years’ probation, court records show. Villari was also charged with marijuana possession with intent to distribute. She was arrested in Hamilton Township on Wednesday without incident. Geckeler was arrested later that day. He was sentenced to four years in prison in 2012 on a third-degree theft charge, according to court records. Murray turned himself in to detectives with Major Crimes. Bennett and Reeves are being held at the Atlantic County Justice Facility on $750,000 full cash bail each and will have their first court appearance Friday morning. The three defendants facing drug and gun charges are being held on $7,500 full cash bail.

#fatal #homicide #killing


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