Sam Collington murder: Man convicted in 2021 shooting death of Temple University student

A man accused of fatally shooting Temple University student Sam Collington near campus in 2021 was convicted Tuesday. 

Latif Williams, who was 17 at the time of the killing, was found guilty by Philadelphia Judge Scott O’Keefe of third-degree murder and weapons charges.

Williams was accused of shooting Collington, 21, multiple times on the 2200 block of North Park Avenue in November 2021.

Williams turned himself in after video surveillance from the night of the murder linked him to the killing.

The waiver trial on Tuesday lasted about two hours with the families of Collington and Williams packing out the small courtroom.


Candlelight vigil held for slain Temple University student Samuel Collington

Family and friends gathered at Interboro High School Thursday night to remember Temple University student Samuel Collington who was killed during a robbery attempt.

"You can tell by the amount of people who showed up here today how special Sam truly was, and we anticipate justice for Sam," said Molly Collington, mother of Sam Collington. "He’s our hero, he always has been. He always will be an admirable son in every way."

"It’s a loss for both families," said Bo McClary, uncle of Latif Williams. "Sorry it happened."

Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore, Chief of the Homicide Unit, called on several witnesses to the stand, including the Acting Chief Medical Examiner and members of the Philadelphia Police Department—an officer with the Crime Scene Unit and three detectives with the Homicide Unit.

Pescatore presented both physical and video evidence. 

The video from a residential surveillance camera shows part of the deadly shooting which included a physical struggle between Williams and Collington. The audio from the video captured the sound of four gun shots during the incident.

Acting Chief Medical Examiner Lindsay Simon said Collington was shot four times—twice in the chest and once in the right hand and left thigh.

Collington, a Delaware County native who was on track to graduate in the spring, was rushed to Temple University Hospital where he died shortly after.

Pescatore said while processing the crime scene police found headphones, keys and a cellphone belonging to Williams. Investigators also fingerprinted a car the offender was seen touching in the surveillance video and matched a partial palm print to Williams.

A detective testified one of the keys unlocked the door to Williams’ family home, which was presented as video evidence from a police body worn camera.

During closing arguments, Pescatore said this incident is a classic case of an attempted carjacking.

"Like I told the family afterwards, I’m just happy we got the person who actually did this to their son, and I know it’s the right person," said Pescatore. "I have no quarrel with the judge’s decision. A lot of the incident happens off video. I was just upset about the victim blaming. I know the victim in this case was a Temple student going back to school after Thanksgiving and that’s what happened to him. You know it’s a sad day, it’s not a good day, a juvenile is convicted of murder and Sam Collington’s parents still don’t have justice."

Williams’ lawyers argued there was not enough evidence and too much speculation for a first or second-degree murder conviction.

"We wanted to show that there was no sufficient evidence for a felony to prove second-degree felony murder, that there’s no indication that there’s any interaction that rose to the level of a robbery," said Marni Snyder, lawyer for Williams. "There was no specific intent to kill for first-degree murder and that was not what happened between these two people."

"We were wary of the first and second-degree convictions which carry mandatory sentences, so this is actually the verdict we had hoped for. It allows us go to sentencing with the judge looking at Latif as an individual and getting a just sentence," said Pat Link, lawyer for Latif Williams. "[Williams] was crying before he came out of the courtroom this morning, just can’t believe the situation he finds himself in."

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office reported that Williams was previously arrested and charged in connection with a carjacking that happened months earlier

The case, however, was later withdrawn by the District Attorney's Office after "a key witness for the Commonwealth did not appear in court."

"Latif Williams was arrested and charged by our office in a Direct File Juvenile case earlier this year for a gunpoint carjacking that did not result in bodily injury to the victim, but by its nature was violent," read a statement from the District Attorney's Office.

"Any invasion of people’s property with firearms involved is a serious crime. However, a key witness for the Commonwealth did not appear in court, forcing our office to withdraw the case at that time. That incident, which took place in July, remains under active investigation, and our office continues to pursue accountability for that crime."

Collington was described by loved ones as passionate, hilarious, and a born leader who loved all things politics. Many spoke about how Sam would rise to every occasion and meet every challenge with a big heart.

"Sam was my hero, and he would’ve been a hero to a lot of people had he not been murdered," Dennis Collington, Sam’s father, previously told FOX 29.

Williams’ sentencing date is scheduled for May 1.