Judge sentences gang member from Hillside to 18 years for homicide at barbecue

NEWARK — Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray announced that the Honorable Ronald D. Wigler, the Criminal Presiding Judge in Essex County, sentenced Richard Whatley, 21, of Hillside to 18 years in New Jersey State Prison for fatally shooting Teshon Clegg, a 32-year-old father of three.

Clegg was fatally shot on May 27, 2013 at a Memorial Day family barbecue on Grumman Avenue in Newark.

On April 24, an Essex County jury convicted Whatley of passion/provocation manslaughter and unlawful possession of a handgun. He was acquitted of the more serious offense of murder.

Assistant Prosecutor Jamel Semper, who tried the case, said Whatley brought a concealed handgun to a family barbecue and was asked to leave the barbecue following an argument involving his friend and several women at the barbecue.

Witnesses testified at trial that Whatley briefly left the barbecue, but quickly returned and participated in a fight involving his friend and several females.

Witnesses at trial testified that Clegg intervened in an effort to quell the dispute before he and Whatley got into an altercation during which Whatley pulled out his concealed handgun and shot Clegg in the chest near a crowd made up of mostly women and children.

Wigler sentenced Whatley to 18 years in state prison. Whatley must serve 12 and a half years before he is eligible for parole. In imposing sentence, the Judge noted Whatley was an admitted member of the 793 Bloods street gang and also had a juvenile record that included numerous arrests for various offenses.

“We will continue to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law gang members who commit violent crimes with illegal guns in our communities,’’ said Semper. “The evidence showed that the defendant came to a family barbecue with a loaded handgun and subsequently shot an unarmed man in front of women and children. This senseless loss of life was a tragedy for the entire community.’’