Man Acquitted In Beating Death The Norristown Defendant Was Convicted Of Less Serious Charges. He Admitted Kicking The Victim Once.

Posted: January 18, 1995

"Billy Nelligan is a mama's boy, not a killer," defense attorney John McMahon Jr. told a jury in Montgomery County Court yesterday.

Nearly six hours later, jurors announced that they agreed.

William Nelligan, 21, standing trial on charges of third-degree murder, reckless endangerment and simple and aggravated assault in the stomping death of Kyle Ramage, was found not guilty of all but the least serious charges.

He was convicted of reckless endangerment and two counts of simple assault for administering one kick to Ramage's left hip as he lay bleeding on a Norristown street Aug. 27.

Throughout the three-day trial, Assistant District Attorney Erik Petersen argued that Nelligan deserved punishment as an accomplice in the killing, despite the fact witnesses said that two Norristown youths, Robert Wesley Austin, 17, and Nathaniel Bunday, 17, delivered all but one of the blows.

"(Prosecutors) have proven Billy guilty only of acting like a stupid 21- year-old kid," McMahon told jurors yesterday. " . . . He could have been a real man and done something to stop what happened, but he didn't. And he's going to have to live with that for the rest of his life."

According to testimony, Nelligan spent the entire day Aug. 26 on a trip to Dorney Park with his mother and one of her friends. The family returned home to Norristown before midnight, Nelligan's mother testified, and her son went out to buy some beer and find some of his friends.

Shortly thereafter, police say, Nelligan, Austin, Bunday and three female acquaintances were sitting on the front steps of a house on Marshall Street.

When Ramage, 25, stumbled by, visibly intoxicated, police say, Austin and Bunday decided to rob him.

According to witnesses, Austin punched Ramage in the face and knocked him to the ground. Bunday than rifled Ramage's pockets and began jumping on the man's torso, witnesses said.

Nelligan testified that he kicked Ramage once before Bunday started kicking Ramage in the face and stomping on his head.

Petersen said Nelligan told police he had delivered that one kick "just to be cool."

Jury foreman Ted Tyree of Abington said jurors weren't totally convinced by McMahon's depiction of Nelligan as an innocent victim of circumstance. But jurors had more than a few doubts about prosecution claims that Nelligan was an accomplice.

"Most people who had an opinion didn't feel as if (prosecutors) had proved it on those accounts," Tyree said.

Jury selection is scheduled to get underway this morning in Austin's trial, which will immediately be followed by Bunday's.

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