Bridgeport Man Involved in 2005 Triple Murder Sentenced to Life in Prison
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 12, 2011|
David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that AZIKIWE AQUART, also known as “Z” and “Ziggy,” 32, of Bridgeport, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Stefan R. Underhill in Bridgeport to life in prison for his role in the murder of three Bridgeport residents in August 2005.
“This defendant participated in the beating deaths of three bound and defenseless individuals, and it is appropriate that he will be removed from society for the remainder of his life,” stated U.S. Attorney Fein. “I want to acknowledge the victims’ family members, who showed strength and courage during the course of this lengthy prosecution, and I commend our law enforcement partners who tirelessly investigated this matter, notably the FBI, Bridgeport Police Department, Connecticut State Police, Connecticut Department of Correction’s Intelligence Unit, ICE Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Marshals Service, and the Bridgeport States Attorney’s Office.”
According to court documents, statements made in court and evidence introduced during Azibo Aquart’s trial in the spring of 2011, Azibo Aquart, who is Azikiwe Aquart’s brother, was the founder and leader of a drug trafficking group that primarily sold crack cocaine out of an apartment building located at 215 Charles Street in Bridgeport. Azibo Aquart and his associates participated in acts of violence, such as threats and assaults, to maintain their control over the group’s drug distribution activities at the Charles Street Apartments. In the summer of 2005, Azibo Aquart and his associates became involved in a drug trafficking dispute with Tina Johnson, a resident of 215 Charles Street who sometimes sold smaller quantities of crack cocaine without the approval of Azibo Aquart. On the morning of August 24, 2005, Azibo Aquart, Azikiwe Aquart and others entered Apartment 101 at 215 Charles Street and murdered Tina Johnson, 43, her boyfriend James Reid, Jr., 40, and friend Basil Williams, 54. The three victims were bound with duct tape and brutally beaten to death with baseball bats.
On August 26, 2011, Azikiwe Aquart pleaded guilty to three counts of murder in aid of racketeering. In pleading guilty, he admitted that agreed to participate in what he believed would be a robbery with his brother and others and, after entering the apartment, he committed the murder of James Reid, while other participants in the crime murdered Tina Johnson and Basil Williams.
Today, Azikiwe Aquart was sentenced to a mandatory life term of imprisonment on each of the three counts.
On May 23, 2011, after a month-long trial, a federal jury in New Haven found Azibo Aquart guilty of the murders of Johnson, Reid and Williams. On June 15, 2011, the jury unanimously determined that Azibo Aquart should be sentenced to death for committing both the racketeering murders and drug-related murders of Johnson and Williams, but could not reach a unanimous decision as to an appropriate penalty, life imprisonment or death, for the racketeering murder and drug-related murder of Reid.
In a victim impact statement provided to the Court, Mary Reid, the mother of James Reid, Jr., wrote “He was my son and he was everything to me and I will always hold him in my heart but my arms will never hold him ever again.... My son had his faults as we all do but he was a gift from God to me and you had no right to take his life. It was not yours to take.”
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bridgeport Police Department, Connecticut State Police, Connecticut Department of Correction’s Intelligence Unit, ICE Homeland Security Investigations, United States Marshals Service, Bridgeport States Attorney’s Office, and U.S. Attorney’s Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tracy L. Dayton, Peter D. Markle, Alina P. Reynolds of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut, and Trial Attorney Jacabed Rodriguez-Coss of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, Capital Case Unit.