Omar Curry celebrated a well-fought draw in his professional boxing debut Saturday. On Tuesday night, he was charged with murder.
Curry, 24, of Atlantic City, was in court Wednesday hearing the charges against him in the Jan. 17 killing of Nelson Viera.
Viera, 32, also of the city, was found shot to death at about 8:30 p.m. on Florida Avenue near Arctic, after the ShotSpotter audio detection system alerted police to an area nearby.
What led to Curry's arrest, in the 800 block of North Virginia Ave., and how he and the victim may have known each other were not revealed during the brief court appearance.
Curry faces charges of murder and weapons offenses, including possession of a weapon by a convicted felon. He pleaded guilty to a weapon possession charge in 2010, after he was found with a stolen handgun inside his van during a motor vehicle stop, according to police and court records.
Saturday night, Curry talked about why he gave up boxing for six or seven years before making his debut at Bally's Atlantic City in a lightweight match against Bridgeton's Marvin Johnson, which ended in a four-round majority draw.
"I grew up in a rough neighborhood and got involved in some things," the Inlet native told The Press of Atlantic City. "But I never lost my love of boxing."
Viera was the city's third — and, so far, last — homicide victim of the year, matching last year's total.
Since then, 32 people have been wounded in 28 shooting incidents, including at least two that were ruled self-inflicted.
Former Atlantic County Prosecutor Ted Housel will represent Curry, the defendant told Superior Court Judge Michael Donio. They are scheduled to meet Friday, he said.
"I have not had an opportunity to meet with my client yet," Housel said, when reached by phone after the brief court hearing. "We are maintaining his innocence."
Curry used to box with Atlantic City's Police Athletic League, and traveled with the group to a national event last year.
"I can't comment on the case as far as Omar is concerned until all the facts are in," said PAL Executive Director Michael Bailey. "My heart goes out to both sides at this time."
Curry said Saturday that he had returned to the gym on the advice of longtime friend Antowyan Aikins, a super-middleweight boxer with an undefeated record.
Curry is being held at the Atlantic County Justice Facility on $1 million full cash bail, with no 10 percent and no bond.
Housel said he was looking into current bail law to decide whether he would ask for a bail hearing.
Staff Writer David Weinberg contributed to this report.
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