An Elizabeth man was sentenced earlier today life in prison after he was found guilty of murder and weapon possession for his role in a 1989 homicide, said Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow.
William (Maurice) Crowley DOB: 7/12/1944 was one of three men charged in the July 9, 1989 shooting death of Robert “Wakil” Pretlow, which occurred in the Pioneer Homes Housing Complex in Elizabeth, said Assistant Prosecutor Caroline R. Lawlor who prosecuted the case with Assistant Prosecutor Lucinda J. McLaughlin.
Crowley and two other men – Bobby Ray Davis and Walter “Rajohn” Griggs – were charged the following day but Crowley had already fled the area. He remained at large until October 19, 2008 when he was arrested in Buffalo, NY on an unrelated charge. At the time he provided a false name and birth date but forensic evidence confirmed his identity as the man wanted in connection with the homicide two decades earlier, said Lawlor.
Crowley was brought back to Union County in early 2009. Davis was killed the day after the initial homicide and Griggs was later convicted in the case, said Lawlor.
During the trial last June, jurors heard from a number of current and retired Elizabeth Police Department officers who originally investigated the case. Retired Police Det. Daniel Geddes and Retired Union County Prosecutor’s Office Deputy Chief Edward L. Johnson testified during the four-week trial. Det. Michael Triarsi of the Union County Homicide Task Force assisted in tracking down former witnesses and people involved in the initial investigation. Crowley was convicted after two days of jury deliberation.