Bruce Williams Jr.
Bruce Williams Jr.

Jesse Heverling was gunned down as he left a York City crackhouse, apparently because his drug dealer was angry that Heverling planned to switch to a different supplier, according to senior deputy prosecutor David Maisch.

"Drugs, guns and murder -- that's what this case is about," Maisch told jurors during his opening statement Monday afternoon in the first-degree murder trial of Bruce Williams Jr.

Williams, 19, of Linden Avenue in York City, remains in county prison without bail, charged with murder, robbery and carrying a firearm without a license. He was 17 at the time of the homicide but was charged as an adult.

According to Maisch, the 32-year-old Heverling had just gotten paid on Nov. 10, 2011, and wanted to get high, so he went to 285 S. Belvidere Avenue, a known crackhouse. Williams was basically acting as the manager of the crackhouse, court documents allege.

"Jesse Heverling had been there many times before," the prosecutor said. "He was a regular."

Drug quality: He bought crack from Williams, then went into a room of the home to smoke it with a woman friend, according to Maisch, but both were dissatisfied with what they thought was the inferior quality of the crack.

Witnesses told police Williams was not happy about that, the prosecutor said.

Heverling tried to leave, but got into a fight with two other crackhouse regulars, according to Maisch.

"Jesse was able to break free and made for the door," he said, causing Williams to physically push a woman out of the way to go after Heverling.

"As soon as Bruce Williams gets out the door, he fires four shots," Maisch told jurors, and three of them struck Heverling. The victim was hit in the arm and leg, but one of the bullets went into his chest, through his heart and lung and into his stomach, according to Maisch.

"He cried out in pain, saying, 'I've been shot!'" Maisch said, then managed to make his way down the street, where he collapsed.

Went through pockets: Witnesses told police Heverling's shooter ran after him and went through the man's pockets as Heverling lay on the ground dying, Maisch said.

But defense attorney Dawn Cutaia, in her opening statement to jurors, said the prosecution's witnesses aren't credible.

They've either lied to police, committed crimes of dishonestly or are addicts -- or a combination of those three things, she said.

"I am going to say nothing but terrible things about their witnesses," Cutaia promised.

Five prosecution witnesses -- three York City officers and two neighbors -- took the stand Monday afternoon, including Officer Tiffany Vogel.

Last breath: Vogel testified Heverling was lying face-up at the corner of South Belvidere and West Hope avenues when she arrived about 10:30 p.m.

"He took his last breaths," she said. "I ... noticed his right pocket was inside out."

She said she and Officer Ben Smith followed Heverling's blood trail back to the door of the crackhouse. Vogel said the home was known to city officers.

"(It) is what we call a 'smokehouse,'" she said.

Trial is set to resume at 9:15 a.m. Tuesday.

-- Staff writer Liz Evans Scolforo can also be reached at levans@yorkdispatch.com.