Minutes after the Eagles won the Super Bowl in 2018 and people celebrated in the streets, an obscenity that insulted the team and its victory led to a violent brawl in Lumberton that left one man dead from a stab wound to the heart and another man seriously injured.
Prosecutors and defense lawyers painted the chaotic neighborhood scene and sparred over the events as the murder trial of Supreme Life, 57, and his son, Antoine Ketler, 33, began in a courtroom in Mount Holly on Wednesday.
Life and Ketler are charged with murder in the death of Moriah Walker, 26, of Brooklyn, N.Y., and attempted murder of his friend Raheem Williams, 23, of Queens, New York City. Williams was stabbed in the stomach and was treated at Cooper University Hospital in Camden.
The exact insult that started the brawl will not be known until later in the trial.
Life’s attorney, Michael Riley, said that the stabbing was in self-defense and that the fight started when the victims wanted “to go back and settle the score when someone hurled insults at them, all over a stupid football game.”
But Assistant Burlington County Prosecutor Robert Van Gilst put the focus on the defendants and said that one witness described them as being “relentless” in their attacks on the two New York men, who were in South Jersey to watch the Super Bowl game with Williams’ cousin on Feb. 4, 2018.
After the attack, and after the victims had gone back into the house where the party was held, Ketler and Life “threatened to burn or blow up the house to get to the victims,” Van Gilst said.
Ketler is represented by Assistant Public Defender Anthony Aldorasi.
Neither the prosecutor nor the defense attorneys would comment on what remark was made that triggered the fight.
Niani Skinner, the first witness in the jury trial before Superior Court Judge Charles Delehey, said she observed part of the brawl. Skinner, 25, of New York, testified that she had accompanied her boyfriend, Williams, and their friend Walker to the Super Bowl party. Williams previously lived in Lumberton, she said, and wanted to be with his family during the game.
After it was over, the three left and planned to go to Philadelphia “to join in what we heard was crazy activities" as reports came of fans jamming the streets, she said. While driving through the neighborhood on Coriander Drive in Lumberton, they passed a group of people and someone pounded on their car. Walker and Williams “got out to check it out” and that’s when the fight began, she said.
But Riley said in his opening statements that a “minor insult” about the Eagles — made by Ketler because he has “an allegiance to another team” — set the events in motion. Walker and Williams backed up their car, jumped out, and began punching and kicking Ketler, Riley said. Ketler’s mother observed the fight from their home and urged Life to go outside and help their son.
Life, whose name was Charles Hoskins before he changed it for religious and personal reasons, ran out and tried to pull Walker off his son, Riley said. But Walker was bigger and 40 years younger than Life and ended up pushing Life to the ground, Riley said.
Life, who is a landscaper and handyman, had a knife on his belt. “He takes the knife out and hopes the younger man backs off. They were rolling together on the ground, and Mr. Walker is stabbed,” Riley said.
Skinner testified that when Ketler and her boyfriend were wrestling in a separate brawl, she put Ketler in “a choke hold” to get him to release Williams. She said Ketler then let go of Williams and stopped the fight.
About a dozen family members of the victims and the defendants attended the trial. Riley said Life has four children and served in the Army. Life also coached youth soccer and football teams in Pemberton for 20 years, as a volunteer, Riley said.