NEWARK, NJ — Acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore N. Stephens II announced Dec. 13 that an Essex County jury has convicted Darryl Watson, 28, of Newark, of first-degree murder for the fatal shooting of 29-year-old Fred Sims, of Newark.
On Feb. 7, 2019, Watson was distributing cocaine and heroin near the Kretchmer Elderly public senior housing complex in Newark’s South Ward. Video surveillance cameras captured him stashing the drugs and a firearm in the rear wheel well of a minivan parked on Carrigan Street. Watson later retrieved the gun from the van, walked toward Sims and, without provocation, shot him in the head. Watson stood over Sims’ body and shot him 10 more times, then fled the scene with the gun.
Following a six-day trial before Superior Court Judge Ronald Wigler, the jury deliberated for an hour before convicting Watson of 10 counts: one count of first-degree murder; two counts of second-degree possession of a firearm for an unlawful purpose; one count of second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm; and six counts of drug crimes: possession of a controlled dangerous substance, possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute, and possession of cocaine and heroin with intent to distribute within 500 feet of a public housing facility.
In a separate trial immediately following the murder conviction, the jury found Watson guilty of possession of a weapon by a convicted felon. In 2016, he had a conviction for distribution of drugs.
Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 30. Watson faces 30 years to life in New Jersey State Prison for the murder conviction.
“This case was based largely on circumstantial evidence and this verdict would not have been possible without the eyewitness who had the courage to testify,” said Assistant Prosecutor Victoria Saraiva, who tried the case along with Assistant Prosecutor Brian Matthews. “Detectives from the homicide task force also did a diligent investigation. We hope the verdict brings peace to Mr. Sims’ family, which has waited more than three years for this moment.”