Syracuse 7-Eleven beating suspect won't face murder charge

Beating death suspect Romeo Williams

The savage beating death of an elderly Syracuse man outside a city corner store will not be pursued as a murder case. Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick tells CNYCentral, "I want people to understand that the hyperbole about the act may not exactly fit what we can prove," Fitzpatrick said.

The death of 70-year-old James Gifford on Saturday, September 21 led to the arrest of 18-year-old Romeo Williams of Chemung Avenue in Syracuse. Police said the attack was random and unprovoked. Gifford died several days after the beating.

"People are generally upset over this and I understand that," Fitzpatrick said. However, legally, his office is simply unable to ask a Grand Jury to consider a charge of murder. "It comes down to what can we prove in this case and what charges fit. Is it criminally negligent homicide? Is it manslaughter in the 1st or 2nd degree? Clearly the facts do not point to murder. People don't understand that section of law has been eviscerated by the Court of Appeals over the last decade," Fitzpatrick noted.