The man charged in a murder in East Preston last week was “trying to get his life on track,” says a longtime friend.


Andre Slawter, 20, was found dead in a car parked near his home on Brian Street at around 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 21. Tywan Kimo Slawter, 35, was also found in the vehicle, suffering from minor injuries.


Steven Maurice Colley, 49, was charged the next day with first-degree murder, attempted murder, and four weapons-related charges.


David Sparks grew up in Cherry Brook and has known Colley, of Dartmouth, for years.


“I’ve known Steve most of my adult life,” Sparks said. “He’s an alright guy ... he's had some difficult times in his life.”

Just three weeks ago, Colley was singing in a church choir, Sparks added.

Colley has a criminal record and was facing assault charges relating to a Sept. 20th incident when Slawter was killed, police say.

Sparks said he was shocked to learn Colley was charged with murder.

“I was completely blown away by it,” Sparks said. “He was trying to get his life on track and this is a 180-degree turn.”

Sparks said he visited Slawter’s grieving mother to express his condolences, even though he didn’t know her son.

“There was family around and she was holding up. He was her only son.”

Sparks, the president of the Martin Luther King Project Association, helped organize a march in North Preston in 2007. It followed the murder of Martaze Provo, 25, and Brandon Beals, 21, on Dec. 10, 2007.

There’s been no talk yet of organizing another march after this recent spate of violence.

“We might have to look at other approaches. I don’t think a march is something that is likely,” Sparks said.