Essex County jury convicts Hillside man of passion provocation manslaughter

Richard Whatley
Richard Whatley

NEWARK — Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray has announced that an Essex County jury has convicted Richard Whatley, 21, of Hillside of passion provocation manslaughter for fatally shooting Teshon Clegg, 32, of Newark during a family barbecue on Memorial Day in 2013.

Assistant Prosecutor Jamel Semper, who tried the case, said on May 27, 2013, Whatley and a friend got into a verbal dispute with women at a party on Grumman Avenue in Newark. Both were asked to leave the party.

Some time later, they returned and got into a second argument with women at the party. When Clegg attempted to intervene, Whatley pulled out a gun and shot Clegg in the chest.

At trial, Semper argued Whatley was guilty of murder. Following a five-week trial before the Ronald Wigler, the presiding judge of the Criminal Division, the jury found Whatley guilty of  passion/provocation manslaughter – a lesser form of homicide. The jury also convicted Whatley of unlawful possession of a weapon.

Following the verdict, Wigler immediately revoked Whatley’s $750,000 bail.

Sentencing is scheduled for June 2. Whatley faces 10 years in New Jersey State Prison for the passion provocation manslaughter and 10 years for the gun offense.

Semper said he will ask for a lengthy sentence because of the defendant’s prior criminal history and admitted membership in 793 Bloods street gang.

“This verdict was achieved because of the brave witnesses who were willing to come forward,’’ said Semper. “The evidence showed the defendant purposefully shot an unarmed man. This defendant came back to a place, where he knew he was not welcome with a loaded handgun and started an altercation, putting in motion all of the events that led to the victim’s death.’’