BRIDGETON — The city teen who escaped from an Egg Harbor City youth detention facility last November was found guilty Tuesday of reckless manslaughter in a 2016 fatal shooting during a drug deal.

Michael Huggins, 19, was also found guilty of unlawful possession of a weapon in the Oct. 7, 2016, murder of Devante Lee, Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae said in a statement Wednesday.

Lee’s killing happened during a drug transaction, Webb-McRae said. Huggins testified he acted in self-defense.

Lee, 21, of East Commerce Street, was sitting in a vehicle on Reeves Road in Bridgeton when he was shot, according to previous reports. He was transported to Inspira Medical Center Vineland, where he was pronounced dead.

A jury reached the verdict after a two-week trial before Judge Robert Malestein in Cumberland County Superior Court.

Huggins faces a 10-year prison sentence for the manslaughter charge, subject to the No Early Release Act, meaning he would need to serve 85 percent of the term before becoming eligible for parole. However, the state will be arguing for an additional 10-year sentence on the weapons offense, with five-year parole ineligibility, Webb-McRae said.

He’s slated to be sentenced Feb. 22.

Huggins was scheduled to appear Tuesday in Atlantic County Superior Court on escape, aggravated assault, weapons and other charges related to the November 2017 escape from the Harborfields Youth Detention Center in Egg Harbor City, but the pretrial conference was postponed. Huggins and three others escaped from the facility, where he was remanded after being charged in Lee’s homicide.

Video from the escape shows a “violent struggle” between a detention officer and the juveniles, according to the affidavit of probable cause.

A detention officer was “struck numerous times in the head and face during the assault,” according to the document, before they took the officer’s keys from his belt and left the facility, stealing a car that belonged to another detention officer.

After crashing the car into an apartment complex in Egg Harbor City, they ran, and then burglarized a home on Bremen Avenue, according to the affidavit, taking clothing and a rifle, which was later recovered in a nearby wooded area.

Several hours after the escape, Stephine Woodley, 18, of Brotmanville, Salem County; Raymir Lampkin, 16, of Atlantic City; and Donovan Nickerson, 17, of Atlantic City, were caught in Bridgeton, while Huggins was arrested the next day.

Huggins, Woodley and Lampkin were indicted in April on charges including escape and conspiracy, robbery and conspiracy, resisting arrest and weapons charges.

Huggins’ next court appearance in Atlantic County is scheduled for Feb. 11 before Judge John R. Rauh.

Staff Writer

I cover breaking news on the digital desk. I graduated from Temple University in Dec. 2017 and joined the Press in the fall of 2018. Previously, I freelanced, covering Pennsylvania state politics and criminal justice reform.

Staff Writer

My beat is public safety, following police and crime. I started in January 2018 here at the Press covering Egg Harbor and Galloway townships. Before that, I worked at the Reading Eagle in Reading, Pa., covering crime and writing obituaries.

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