Brother of slain Mercer corrections officer recounts horror of banquet hall murder

Life was good for Carl Batie.

The former corrections officer had a flourishing career. He had just bought a new BMW and planned to take it for a spin with his brother, Karshawn, to the Baldassari Regency banquet hall on Nov. 10, 2012.

The two brothers were a few years apart but inseparable whether at home or in the bathroom. They headed to the banquet hall around 10 p.m. for a party celebrating the re-election of President Barack Obama.

Maurice Skillman

Maurice Skillman

When they arrived, Carl flaked out $50 to pay both he and his brother’s cover charge.

“He treated me,” Karshawn said on the witness stand Thursday.

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Trenton killer gets 30 years, but victim’s family lost their ‘glue’

She was the strongest of her five sisters, a “rock of knowledge” and the “family glue,” who transcended her hardscrabble upbringing.

“She was the rationalization of our dismal existence,” Rose Chapman, the younger sister of murder victim Keisha Alexander, said Thursday at sentencing for her sister’s killer.

Jorge Rodriguez, 22, was a “soulless, rhythmless child” who could have made his life better but instead gave into his own abuse-filled past.

Jorge Rodriguez

Jorge Rodriguez

His defense attorney, Kathleen Redpath-Perez, said he was sexually abused as a child and spent most of his life in the care of child welfare officials. He was reunited with his mother at 16 and graduated from Nottingham High School in Hamilton but later found himself in trouble.

They came from tough backgrounds but led very different lives. Alexander was a 49-year-old phlebotomist. Rodriguez was a serial burglar who owned eight convictions as a juvenile.Read more

Asking jurors about ‘Making a Murderer’ in Trenton homicide retrial a bad idea, experts say

Lady Justice is supposed to be blind.

Prosecutors and Mercer County Superior Court Judge Andrew Smithson, however, may be slipping off the blindfold and tipping the scales in an upcoming murder trial, legal experts said.

Maurice Skillman

Maurice Skillman

Smithson has indicated he will allow prospective jurors in the murder retrial of two Trenton men accused of gunning down off-duty Mercer County corrections officer Carl Batie to be questioned about whether they watched “Making a Murderer.”

The hit Netflix docuseries chronicled the life of Steven Avery, a Wisconsin convict who has been held out as the poster child for flaws in the criminal justice system.Read more

Making a Murderer’ making it tough for Mercer County prosecutors

Call it the “Making a Murderer” effect.

When jury selection kicks off next week in the second murder trial of two men accused of killing Mercer County corrections officer Carl Batie, prosecutors will ask prospective jurors whether they watched the popular true crime Netflix docuseries and if it impacted their views on police, prosecutors and the criminal justice system.

Hykeem Tucker

Hykeem Tucker

During jury selection, prospective jurors are regularly asked about the types of newspapers, magazines and books they read and televisions shows and movies they watch.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys do so to focus in on potential juror biases and will do so moreso in the retrial of suspected killers Maurice Skillman and Hykeem Tucker.

Their first trial, held earlier this year, ended in a mistrial – one of four hung juries and an acquittal in the last six murder trials tried in Mercer County.Read more

No success in murder trials could impact nomination of Mercer County prosecutor

Shaheed Brown is shaping up to be the new “Boom Bat” of Mercer County.

Brown’s murder case has drawn comparisons to convicted murderer and Latin Kings leader Jose “Boom Bat” Negrete because of the difficulties prosecutors have had trying the cases.

Shaheed Brown listens to testimony from State Police Detective Joseph Itri. Gregg Slaboda - The Trentonian

Shaheed Brown listens to testimony from State Police Detective Joseph Itri. Gregg Slaboda - The Trentonian

It has also shined a bright light on a spate of mistrials and acquittals that have legal experts debating the way prosecutors try homicide cases in Mercer County and whether a “string of bad luck” could impact the future of Angelo Onofri.Read more

Two Trenton teens arrested in Ricardo Montalvan murder

Ricardo Montalvan Jr.

Ricardo Montalvan Jr.

Two city teens have been arrested in connection with the murder of Ricardo Montalvan Jr.

The males, ages 16 and 17, are each charged with murder, felony murder, robbery and related weapons offenses in connection with Montalvan’s death. Their names have not been released because they are juveniles.

Montalvan, 23, was gunned down last week while sitting in a silver Toyota Camry in the 200 block of Whittaker Avenue. He later died at the hospital.

Police say the 16-year-old suspect was detained immediately after the shooting and later charged in connection with the incident. The 17-year-old was apprehended Monday morning at his residence.

Ewing man charged with murder held on $1M

Jamar McCoy

Jamar McCoy

A Ewing man accused of gunning down Jermaine “Mooky” Johnson was caught on tape fleeing the scene of the shooting, prosecutors said.

Jamar Mcoy’s bail hearing went forward Monday after it was rescheduled last week when a Mercer County public defender said she had a conflict of interest. Read more

Hung again: Shaheed Brown jury can’t reach decision for second time

Shaheed Brown listens to testimony from State Police Detective Joseph Itri. Gregg Slaboda - The Trentonian

Shaheed Brown listens to testimony from State Police Detective Joseph Itri. Gregg Slaboda - The Trentonian

Enrico Smalley Jr’s brother crumpled on a bench outside of the courtroom, unable to hold back bloodcurdling shrieks that echoed through the hallways of Mercer County criminal court.

That was hours before the second trial of former Newark gang member Shaheed Brown ended in mistrial for the second time in six months.

Smalley’s family spent most of Friday outside of Judge Andrew Smithson’s courtroom, hoping for the best, preparing for the worst and reconciling that they would likely be back here again in a few months after a jury hinted Thursday it was deadlocked.Read more

Second juror ‘vanishes,’ false start on second mistrial for Shaheed Brown

A juror “vanished” into thin air and was replaced Thursday by an alternate in the second murder trial of former Newark gang member Shaheed Brown.

The woman, Juror No. 8, was the second juror to be dismissed in the retrial of Brown, who is accused of gunning down Enrico Smalley Jr. outside of La Guira Bar in July 2014, leaving only 12 jurors remaining.

That was significant because the loss of an additional juror would result in a mistrial, forcing prosecutors and the defense to embark through a third trial.

Shaheed Brown listens to testimony from State Police Detective Joseph Itri. Gregg Slaboda - The Trentonian

Shaheed Brown listens to testimony from State Police Detective Joseph Itri. Gregg Slaboda - The Trentonian

And it almost ended that way, again, Thursday.

Those 12 jurors returned to a courtroom after about four and a half hours of spirited discussion and uttered the same words that haunted those at Brown’s first trial: We are deadlocked and further deliberations will not be fruitful.Read more

Man murdered in Trenton Wednesday night

Crime scene evidence placards littered the sidewalk and rear of a home at the intersection of Whittaker Avenue and Elmer Street, suggesting another tragedy had struck the capital city. Read more