Defense calls evidence in New Jersey mass shooting circumstantial

Zedekiah Holmes is charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Kevin Elliot and Asia Hester.

ByAssociated Press WPVI logo
Wednesday, August 18, 2021
Man charged with 2 murders after mass shooting at NJ party
The May 22 shooting left a total of three people dead and 11 others injured.

FAIRFIELD TWP., New Jersey (WPVI) -- The attorney for a man accused of having killed two of three people slain during a birthday party in New Jersey earlier this year says the case against his client is entirely circumstantial.

Zedekiah Holmes, 21, of Millville, is charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Kevin Elliot, 30, and Asia Hester, 25, in the May 22 gunfire at the Fairfield Township home. Holmes is the older brother of the third person killed, Brailyn Holmes, 19, of Millville; no one has been charged in her death.

SEE ALSO: Man charged with 2 murders after mass shooting at New Jersey house party; sister also killed

The May 22 shooting left a total of three people dead and 11 others injured.

During Tuesday's detention hearing, defense attorney John Morris challenged whether prosecutors had adequate evidence to support the charges, reported. Morris said no eyewitnesses appear to have implicated his client as having been involved and there has to be "at least a well-grounded suspicion" that he is the one to be charged.

Prosecutors said Holmes had been charged earlier with attempted murder in shots fired April 13 at someone standing in the driveway of another Fairfield home. Authorities said 11 of the 48 shell casings recovered after the May 22 shooting matched casings found at the scene of the earlier shooting.

Superior Court Judge Robert Malestein found probable cause for the charges and noted that witnesses are often reluctant to step forward even in cases with hundreds of people present.

"Sometimes circumstantial evidence can be more persuasive in the minds of the jury than direct evidence," he said.

Frantic 911 calls detail the moments after a gunman opened fire in Fairfield Township, New Jersey last weekend, killing three people and injuring 11 others.

Thirty-six-year-old Kevin Dawkins is charged with attempted murder in connection with the shooting.

Police say Dawkins was found at a nearby apartment complex with a handgun clutched in his right hand.

Dawkins was in possession of the same handgun at the party, according to an affidavit, and witnesses identified him as holding and discharging the weapon at the property.

Roughly 16 shots were fired from the gun that was found to be in his possession, according to the affidavit, but authorities don't say if Dawkins shot anyone.

Kevin Dawkins
Cumberland County Department of Corrections

Two other men have been charged in the case: Larry McCrae, 39, is charged with two counts of unlawful possession of a handgun and 30-year-old Darrell Dawkins is facing weapons charges. In court documents, authorities identified Darrell as Kevin's step-brother.

Five others are charged with hindering or obstruction:Arthur Armstead, Priscilla Armstead, Tasia Coleman, Tazshaina Sadler and Aladrienne Milbourne.

Investigators have asked anyone who attended the event and may have cellphone footage from the party or the shooting to contact state police or Cumberland County prosecutors.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.