Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray announced today that an Essex County jury convicted Joel Hester, 25, of Newark for the murder of Oscar Ayo, Jr., 31, of Newark.
The jury reached its verdict after approximately four hours of deliberation. In addition to first degree murder, Hester, a reputed Bloods gang member whose street name is ‘Bandana,’ was also convicted of two weapons offenses.
Prior to this case, Hester was convicted of three felonies — obstruction of justice, aggravated assault, and eluding.
The murder occurred on June 14, 2010. At approximately 10:30 p.m., the two men were engaged in a verbal disagreement when Hester pulled out a gun and shot Ayo in the head on Astor Street, near McCarter Highway. Ayo died some five hours later at a local hospital.
“This was a senseless murder,” said Assistant Prosecutor Brian Matthews, who tried the case. “I trust that the guilty verdict offers the family of Oscar Ayo some sense of closure for their loss. I hope it also sends the message that disagreements cannot be solved with violence.”
Sentencing is scheduled for September 28, 2012. Hester faces a life sentence plus 30 years.