22-year-old Marcel Steele, the owner of a New Jersey home recording studio, is being charged in the killing of an aspiring rapper – but he claims it was self-defense. The incident occurred at the home where Steele lives with his mother, 41-year-old Shasta Steele. Marcel also runs a music studio in a room of the house. On November 28, Jodeci Robinson, also 22 years old, had come to Steele’s home for a recording session with his friend Saliim Bey. As it turned out, Bey, age 26, is now a witness to Robinson’s death.
Everything went as planned until it was time for Robinson to pay up: Allegedly, he owed Steele money for both that session and a prior one. Robinson didn’t have the money on hand, so all three young men went to a nearby Wawa to use the ATM before returning to Steele’s house. According to the prosecutor, Steele then asked Robinson for the money a second time. When Robinson told Steele to “chill,” Steele drew his blue and purple SCCY 9mm, pointed it at Robinson, and started shooting.
According to the prosecution, Robinson began screaming “Stop, stop, stop!” as he and Bey ran for the door. By the time responding officers arrived, they found Robinson dead on the Steele family’s front lawn.
Allegedly, neither Steele nor his mother called 9-1-1 during this incident, and Ms. Steele has also been accused of removing evidence from the scene of the shooting. According to witnesses, she was seen placing a black plastic bag into an SUV parked in the driveway and moving the SUV down the street. A search of the SUV yielded a bag containing marijuana and $2,000 in cash. More marijuana was found in the backyard. The SCCY pistol was found on the roof of the house, and two other handguns were found inside.
“Neither one stopped, made a 911 call, administered any help, asked for help, instead they were running around the house and the property for what it appears was getting rid of evidence,” says Assistant Prosecutor Jacqueline Caban.
On top of all that, Steele already had a record of drug and assault convictions and was on pre-trial monitoring for a simple assault charge at the time of the shooting.
It’s certainly not a clear-cut case, but Steele’s attorney, James Leonard, thinks the evidence will prove it was self-defense. According to him, Steele wasn’t the only one firing shots in the home that night.
“We are optimistic that when the investigation in this case is completed, the state will agree that Mr. Steele was the victim of a robbery perpetrated by the decedent and Mr. Bey, and that Mr. Steele acted in his own self-defense and in the defense of his mother, who was present in the home during the robbery,” said Leonard.