Third defendant charged in connection with 2016 Plainfield murder

A third person has been charged with murder and related weapons offenses for playing a role in the 2016 shooting death of an innocent bystander in Plainfield, acting Union County Prosecutor Michael A. Monahan announced Friday.

Francis E. Lockley, 29, was taken into custody Friday and charged in connection with the death of 37-year-old Willie Lee Major.

Shortly after 6:45 p.m. on Wednesday, May 25, 2016, Plainfield Police Division patrol units responding to a report of gunshots rushed to the area of West 4th Street and Liberty Place and found Major, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

An investigation involving the Union County Homicide Task Force, Plainfield Police Division, Union County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Unit, and Union County Police Department Ballistics Unit initially resulted in 19-year-old Diniek Forbes and 24-year-old Shaquille Spruiel being identified as suspects, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutor Colleen Ruppert, who is prosecuting the case. The investigation also revealed that Major was not believed to be the intended target of the shooting, Ruppert said.

Forbes was arrested in late June 2016, and Spruiel was located and taken into custody a month later, with bail set at $1.4 million and $2 million, respectively. The pair were indicted in December 2016, but the investigation continued, ultimately revealing that Lockley was also involved.

Anyone with additional information about this matter is being urged to contact Homicide Task Force Sgt. Johnny Ho at 908-403-8271or Detective Danika Ramos at 908-451-7739. 

Convictions on murder charges are typically punishable by terms of 30 years to life in state prison.

These criminal charges are mere accusations. Each defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.