A Pennsylvania man has been found guilty of murdering the father of former college basketball star and NBA standout DeJuan Blair.
On a late Saturday night in late November 2019, 46-year-old Gregory Blair Sr. was shot to death on Center Street in Wilkinsburg, Pa. The victim was said to have been involved in an argument with his killer immediately before the fatal incident.
💕 RIP 💕 Former Pitt basketball star DeJuan Blair is mourning the death of his father, who was shot in Wilkinsburg. https://t.co/Lw96dM4MnB
— KDKA (@KDKA) November 19, 2019
According to Allegheny County Assistant District Attorney Alison Bragle, who made the case to jurors during a brief trial earlier this month, Blair Sr. was in that dispute with Dilon Bartifay, 34. The victim addressed his eventual killer, the prosecutor said, because he believed the defendant had been harassing his female friend while she was waiting for a Lyft, according to Pittsburgh NBC affiliate WPXI.
Local police said Bartifay shot Blair and then just walked away. Blair was discovered with a gunshot wound sometime after 10:30 p.m. and taken to a nearby hospital where he later succumbed to his injuries. The defendant was arrested the next day by the Wilkinsburg Police Department without incident who said they identified their suspect using video surveillance footage. He was then charged with criminal homicide and detained in the Allegheny County Jail.
“RIP DAD,” the former San Antonio Spurs power forward posted on Instagram at the time.
The elder Blair was well known and remembered fondly in the Pittsburgh area–social media eulogies and condolences came through in a rush after death. He worked for a decade at Carlow University by way of a job with the private Catholic school’s dining vendor. His son, the eventual basketball star, was also an award winning player during his two years at the University of Pittsburgh renowned for his resounding rebounding and toughness in the paint. Blair was a prominent member of the 2008-2009 Pitt team, which ended up earning a no. 1 seed in the NCAA March Madness tournament but which fell just short of reaching the Final Four. Blair went on to enter the NBA draft and was selected in the early second round by the Spurs. Blair last played in the NBA for the Washington Wizards during the 2015-2016 season.
During extensive testimony reported by WPXI reporter Talia Kirkland, Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office staff said that Blair Sr. was shot head-on in the neck. Crime lab experts testified that Bartifay’s shirt worn on the night in question contained gunshot residue. One of the defendant’s former roommates even testified against him–telling jurors that Bartifay went out right before they heard the gunshots and that the since-convicted man returned a short while later.
The defense had pinned their hopes on convincing jurors that the actual killer was a man named Antonio Williams.
The would-be alternative culprit cited by Bartifay’s defense attorney Nina Martinelli, however, was actually the commonwealth’s final witness.
During his testimony, Williams said he saw some, but not all, of what happened on the night of Nov. 16, 2019: Blair Sr. approached him and initially thought he was the person harassing his friend, but the victim left him alone after being told that he had not even spoken to the woman. The witness went on to say that he thought Blair went back to his apartment. Then, the witness said, he heard the shots ring out.
On Monday, following his three-day trial, the defendant was found guilty of murder in the first degree.
Bartifay faces a mandatory sentence of life in state prison. His sentencing hearing is currently slated for May 13, 2022.
[image via Wilkinsburg Police Department]
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