NEWARK, NJ — Robert Steele, 27, of Newark pleaded guilty to first-degree aggravated manslaughter, admitting he fatally shot Hydee Wryce, 28, also of Newark, according to a Sept. 26 press release from acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore Stephens II.
The plea agreement calls for Steele to be sentenced to 25 years in New Jersey State Prison. Under the No Early Release Act, Steele will have to serve 85 percent of his sentence before he is eligible for parole.
Appearing before presiding Criminal Court Judge Ronald D. Wigler on Sept. 25, Steele admitted shooting the victim multiple times at close range.
According to Assistant Prosecutor Alex Albu, who handled the case, on Oct. 29, 201,7 at approximately 11:15 a.m., Steele and Wryce were both placing bets at an illegal gambling spot located in the 100 block of Littleton Avenue in Newark.
The victim was parked right in front of the gambling location, while the defendant was parked around the block. The defendant retrieved a gun from his vehicle and then placed it in the front pocket of his hooded sweatshirt. He then came back around the block and appeared to look around. He then approached the front passenger-side door. The victim lowered the window and the two men shook hands.
After a brief conversation, the defendant suddenly pulled the gun on Wryce and fired multiple times from close range at the victim. The defendant then ran around the block to his car and sped away. Multiple witnesses provided information about the defendant’s actions at the time of the incident and surveillance video captured pertinent portions of the encounter.
In addition, the defendant’s distinctive clothing was recovered at his girlfriend’s residence pursuant to a search warrant. DNA testing further confirmed that the clothing was in fact worn by the defendant during the incident. In addition, ammunition consistent with the murder weapon was also found at the residence.
“The lengthy prison term in this case obtained through a negotiated plea agreement underscores the nuanced and exhaustive investigation conducted by the Newark Police Department and the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office,” Albu said. “While no amount of prison time can ever bring back the victim or rebuild the lives destroyed by this defendant’s cold-blooded killing, the interests of justice are served by this guilty plea, which makes clear that society will not tolerate such conduct.”