Whitehall man charged in homicide
U.S. marshals have arrested a Whitehall Township man whom they believe to be the final suspect in a double homicide that occurred last month in Chestnuthill Township, Monroe County.
Marshals arrested Zaire Unique Burkett, 20, of Whitehall, Jan. 17.
Burkett is the fourth suspect charged in the Dec. 4, 2019, shooting of Dylan Beinert, 22; Khalil Durante, 23; and Walter Howard Durante at a home on Silver Maple Road in the Sun Valley area. Beinert died at the scene, and Khalil Durante later died at a hospital, while Walter Durante was left in critical condition.
According to Pennsylvania State Police, Burkett was one of three men who traveled to the home to steal money and marijuana from Beinert. A co-defendant, 21-year-old Matthew Burke, of East Stroudsburg, confessed to actually shooting Beinert and the Durantes, according to court documents.
Another suspect charged was a woman accused of helping to set up the victims under the guise of buying drugs and, on the night of the shooting, provided the accused shooters with information about the location of drugs and guns inside the house.
At 6 a.m. Jan. 17, members of the task force checked a home in the 700 block of South Eighth Street, Allentown, and arrested Burkett without incident. He was turned over to state police and was arraigned that afternoon.
The shooting happened after 10:30 p.m. Dec. 4, 2019. When police arrived, they found Beinert dead of a gunshot wound, and the Durantes critically injured. Khalil Durante later died of his injuries, while Walter Durante is recovering in a local hospital.
Four defendants have been charged with criminal homicide in the case: Burkett, Burke, Eric Deshawn Gulley, 41, of Allentown and Deani Powell, 19, of Easton.
Troopers said the accused shooters gained access to the home through Powell, who had arranged to purchase marijuana from Beinert on the night of the shooting.
A witness who was in the home told troopers that, on the night of the shooting, Beinert told her a woman he had contacted on Tinder and Snapchat would be coming over to the house.
That night, Powell drove her car to the home and met with Beinert. While at the house, she allegedly sent details about the location of drugs and guns inside the house to Burke, who was her boyfriend and waiting in another vehicle nearby with Burkett and Gulley.
About 20 minutes after she arrived at the house, Powell texted Burke she would tell Bei- nert she needed to go to her car to get her purse.
While she was outside, she allegedly texted Burke again.
Troopers said three men, identified by police as Gulley, Burke and Burkett, entered the house carrying guns. Gulley and Burkett wore Halloween masks, while Burke had his hood hiding his face.
A struggle ensued between the men. One shot Beinert and Khalil Durante.
The gunmen told the two Durantes, as well as three other people who were at the residence, to lie face down on the kitchen floor while they removed items from the home.
They then ordered all the occupants outside the house.
Troopers said one of the gunmen told Khalil Durante to “say your prayers” and shot him while he was praying.
Walter Durante screamed, according to the witness, and was also shot by the gunman. Burke told troopers the gunmen fled in two vehicles waiting along Silver Maple Road.
They met in Allentown near Gulley and Burkett’s home and divided up the marijuana and other items they stole from the home. From Powell’s car, police recovered a Remington Model 870 shotgun, a Hi Point model 4095, a .40-caliber Smith and Wesson grip rifle with a camouflage exterior, various types of ammunition and a Halloween mask.
State police were able to identify Powell as a suspect using social media messages she exchanged with Beinert before the shooting.
Following the shooting, troopers obtained search warrants for Bei- nert’s accounts on Tinder and Snapchat and found messages between him and a user police identified as Powell.
During a police interview Dec. 6, 2019, Powell said two men she knew only as “Flex” and “Pop” had used her Snapchat account to set up a drug deal with Beinert. She said she did not know the third man.
Through text messages on Powell’s phone, troopers identified the third suspect as Burke, Powell’s boyfriend.
Burke told them he came up with a plan where Powell would set up a drug deal with Bei- nert on social media.
Burke said he shot Beinert and Khalil Durante with a revolver he was carrying because they struggled with “Pop” and “Flex.”
Based on information from that interview, they identified “Flex” as Burkett and “Pop” as Gulley.
On Dec. 7, 2019, troopers obtained an arrest warrant for Burkett. Attempts to find Burkett were unsuccessful, and the case was adopted by the U.S. Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force.
Burkett and his co-defendants face two counts of criminal homicide each and other charges, including aggravated assault and robbery. They have been denied bail due to the homicide charges.
A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Feb. 7.