Defendant convicted on all charges for fatal shooting of innocent bystander

A Union County jury has convicted a Plainfield man on all charges for playing the key role in the 2016 shooting death of an innocent bystander, acting Union County Prosecutor Jennifer Davenport announced Thursday.

Shaquille Spruiel, 26, was found guilty of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and two related weapons offenses following a nearly month-long trial before state Superior Court Judge Robert Kirsch.

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 and Liberty streets and found the victim, 37-year-old Willie Lee Major, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

An investigation led by the Union County Homicide Task Force and Sgt. Danika Ramos, assisted by the Plainfield Police Division, Union County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Unit, and Union County Police Department Ballistics Unit, resulted in Spruiel and a second defendant, 21-year-old Diniek Forbes, being identified as suspects, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutors Colleen Ruppert and Michael D’Agostino, who prosecuted the case.

The investigation revealed that the shooting occurred as an element of a long-simmering feud between two gangs operating in Plainfield’s West End – specifically, out of retaliation for a still-unsolved fatal shooting that had taken place in Plainfield a little more than two weeks prior, Ruppert and D’Agostino said.

Forbes was arrested in June 2016, and Spruiel was located and taken into custody in Georgia a month later. The pair were indicted in December 2016, but the investigation continued, ultimately revealing that a third defendant, 30-year-old Francis Lockley, was also believed to be involved. Lockley was apprehended in February 2018, and while he was acquitted of all charges yesterday, Forbes in December 2018 pleaded guilty to a charge of aggravated manslaughter.

Forbes is tentatively scheduled to be sentenced on Friday, August 9, 2019 before Judge Kirsch, while Spruiel’s sentencing has been scheduled for two weeks later, on the 23rd. Convictions on murder charges are typically punishable by terms of 30 years to life in state prison.