Man Pleads Not Guilty in Killing of Marine Veteran

CAMDEN -- The man charged with shooting and killing a Marine veteran outside a Camden bar Sunday appeared in court Thursday and pleaded not guilty.

Darrell Crone, 31, of Camden, is charged with first-degree murder and weapons charges in the death of Timothy Loper Jr., 27, of Pine Hill, outside 20 Horse Tavern early Sunday.

The homicide prompted the city to temporarily close the bar pending a hearing next week, city spokesman Robert Corrales said.

Thursday, in a courtroom packed with Loper's family and a handful of Crone's relatives, Judge Edward McBride kept Crone's bail at $2 million, cash only, as the accused man shook his head incredulously at the charges.

Assistant prosecutor Christine Shah said surveillance video from the bar shows Crone getting out of a Chevy Suburban registered in his name around midnight and leaving at 2:45 a.m.

She said video also shows the fight, which authorities have said broke out between a friend of Loper's and a friend of Crone's over a young woman. The video shows a man identified by a witness as Crone pulling out a gun, shooting, then returning the gun to his waistband, getting into the Chevy SUV, and driving away, Shah said.

Loper, who served in Afghanistan and was a husband and father of a 6-year-old girl, was attending a birthday celebration for a friend, his father said after the arraignment.

Loper was shot once in the back trying to break up the fight and was pronounced dead at Cooper University Hospital at 3:04 a.m.

"He was a great person and a hero," Loper Sr. said. "I not only lost my son, I lost my best friend."

He told a swarm of reporters after the arraignment that his family members came out in full force to support one another and "to see who tore our hearts out."

Crone, an aspiring boxer with a lengthy criminal record -- he has spent 11 of his 13 years as an adult in prison -- has denied all charges, his attorney, Scott R. Cohen, said.

Cohen questioned how Crone could have gotten a gun into the bar, which he said has a security checkpoint at its entry.

The tavern, once a stable for horses dating to 1904, had been one of the last remaining white-tablecloth eateries in the city and was taken over by new owners in 2010. The owners, who could not immediately be reached for comment, touted the bar as a symbol of revitalization in the area.

A funeral for Loper will be held 11 a.m. Friday at Antioch Baptist Church, following a viewing from 9 to 11 a.m.

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Marine Corps