Four Men Charged with 2015 Absecon Motel Murder of Two Local Men
Four local men have been charged with felony murder in connection with the shooting deaths of two local men at an area motel back in 2015.
Three other people have been charged with drug and gun possession charges.
According to Atlantic County Prosecutor Diane Ruberton:
On March 1, 2015 at 4:58 a.m., in response to a 9-1-1 call, Absecon Police officers responded to the Red Roof Inn on East Absecon Boulevard.
Upon arrival, police found two men dead inside the hotel of gunshot wounds. The victims were identified as Diante Owens, 22, of Pleasantville, and Gerald Alvarez, 22, of Mays Landing. The Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit responded to the scene, and the New Jersey State Police Crime Scene South Unit assisted with crime-scene processing.
Two other men—Donnell Nicholas, 22, of Atlantic City and Zackery M. Geckeler, 22, of Galloway Township—arrived at the AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center—City Division Trauma Unit later the same morning, both with gunshot injuries.
Autopsies performed the next day of Owens and Alvarez by New Jersey Medical Examiner’s Office Dr. Gerald Feigin determined that Owen’s death was caused by a gunshot wound to the chest, that Alvarez’s death was caused by multiple gunshot wounds, and that the manner of both deaths was homicide.
An 18-month investigation by the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit and the Absecon Police Department, with assistance provided by the Atlantic City, the Pleasantville, the Galloway Township, the Hamilton Township, and Egg Harbor Township police departments, resulted in the issuance of criminal charges this past Tuesday against seven (7) persons involved in the incident.
The State alleges that Diante Owens and the four men listed below were engaged in “the commission of, or an attempt to commit, or flight after committing or attempting to commit the crime of robbery, during which” Gerald Alvarez was killed. The State also alleges that the targets of the robbery were themselves armed with handguns, were inside a rented hotel/motel room engaged in drug distribution, and that gunshots were fired on both sides.
Criminally charged on Tuesday, August 23, 2016, by the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office were:
Brian Bennett, 25, of North Third Street, Pleasantville, NJ, Aaquile Reeves, 20, of Oyster Bay Road, Absecon, NJ, Tywan Dixon, 22, of Magnolia Avenue, Pleasantville, NJ, and Donnell Nicholas, 24, of Wabash Place, Atlantic City, NJ.
The four men were charged with: Felony Murder (of Gerald Alvarez)—a crime of the 1st degree, Robbery—a 1st degree crime, Conspiracy to Commit Robbery—a 2nd degree crime, Possession of a Handgun for an Unlawful Purpose—a 2nd degree crime, and Unlawful Possession of a Handgun (without obtaining a permit to carry)—a 2nd degree crime.
Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Michael Blee set bail on the four defendants at $750,000 / no 10%.
Bennett was arrested in Pleasantville without incident by Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit Detectives and Pleasantville Police officers on Tuesday, August 23, 2016, and was lodged in the Atlantic County Justice Facility.
Reeves was arrested the same day at the Atlantic County Justice Facility, where he was being held on an unrelated matter. Reeves was served the criminal complaints and processed for the arrest by ACPO Major Crime Unit detectives, and returned to the Atlantic County Justice Facility.
Dixon and Nicholas remain at-large, fugitives from justice, and law enforcement requests that anyone with information about their whereabouts contact the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit at 609-909-7666.
The Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office also charged the occupants of the hotel room:
Trevor S. Murray, 22, of Cottonwood Court, Mays Landing, NJ, Zackery M. Geckeler, 23, of Chipshot Lane, Galloway Township, NJ, and Ashley A. Villari, 23, of Cottonwood Court, Mays Landing, NJ, with
Possession of Xanax with Intent to Distribute—a crime of the 3rd degree, Possession of a Handgun While Committing a Controlled Dangerous Substance (CDS) offense—a 2nd degree crime, Unlawful Possession of a Knife—4th degree, Possession of a Handgun for an Unlawful Purpose—2nd degree, and Unlawful Possession of a Handgun (without obtaining a permit to carry)—a 3rd degree crime.
Trevor Murray was also charged with Possession of a Weapon (Firearm and Knife) By a Convicted Felon—a 4th degree crime.
Ashley Villari was also charged with Possession With Intent to Distribute Marijuana—a 3rd degree crime.
Yesterday, Wednesday, August 24, 2016, Detectives of the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit and the Hamilton Township Police Department arrested Villari in Hamilton Township without incident. Later yesterday, Hamilton Township Police officers subsequently arrested Geckeler in Hamilton Township, and Trevor Murray surrendered himself to Prosecutor’s Office detectives.
All three were processed for the arrest, and lodged in the Atlantic County Justice Facility bail, set by Judge Blee at $75,000 / no 10%. The first court appearance of Brian Bennett and Aaquile Reeves is scheduled for 8:45 a.m. tomorrow, Friday, August 26, 2016, before Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Bernard E. DeLury in Courtroom 5 of the Atlantic County Criminal Court on Unami Boulevard, Mays Landing.
Anyone with information about this shooting is asked to call the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit at 609-909-7666.