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New trial in 1993 slaying of Omar Massey-Wideman

Monday, November 22, 1999

By Jim McKinnon, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

It has been six years this month since Omar Massey-Wideman was murdered in the bedroom of his Hazelwood home. Today, the third -- and last -- defendant in that execution-style slaying will present his best chance at a defense.

It is the seventh time this case has been presented before Common Pleas Judge David R. Cashman, the eighth jury that has been selected to hear the evidence.

Testimony began last week in the trial of Stanford Williams, one of three men charged with the Nov. 8, 1993, shooting death of Massey-Wideman.

Defense attorney David Shrager is expected to call one of Williams' co-defendants, Leon Godfrey, to testify that neither of them was involved in Massey-Wideman's slaying.

Godfrey already has been convicted.

Massey-Wideman, 22, was the son of Robert Wideman, who had been serving a life sentence for his conviction as an accomplice in the 1975 shooting death of a used-car salesman. Robert Wideman was granted a new trial after an appeal to the state Supreme Court.

Massey-Wideman's uncle, the noted author John Edgar Wideman, wrote the book "Brothers and Keepers" as a story about the different paths he and Robert Wideman had taken.

Massey-Wideman was shot at least five times in the head on Nov. 8, 1993, when three men barged into his residence and accosted him as he awakened from a nap.

The three defendants, Ronald Mc-Keithan of West Mifflin, Godfrey and Williams, were arrested by undercover police who said the suspects sped away from the scene and later abandoned their vehicle.

In McKeithan's first two trials, the jury was unable to reach verdicts. Then the trial was delayed because the prosecutor became ill and was bedridden for nearly a week. The trial was further delayed for about two years because McKeithan was released on nominal bond and fled to Atlanta, Ga.

In July 1998, a jury acquitted McKeithan. On May 10, McKeithan, 25, was killed in a motorcycle accident on Kennywood Boulevard in West Mifflin.

Godfrey, 34, of Hazelwood, was sentenced in April 1998 to life plus 10 to 20 years in prison for his role in Massey-Wideman's murder. The sentence came at the end of Godfrey's second trial. His first ended in a mistrial.

Godfrey already had been serving a sentence of six to 12 years for a conviction on a charge of homicide by vehicle in connection with the May 1994 two-car collision that killed Julia Renton, 75, of Munhall, on the Homestead High Level Bridge.

Godfrey is expected to testify today for Williams.

Williams, 31, of the Hill District, is facing his second trial in the Massey-Wideman murder. His first trial also ended in a mistrial.

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