Trenton murder victim regretted his troubled past, his family says

Breion Greenfield (contributed photo)

Breion Greenfield (contributed photo)

A local street hustler describes Breion Greenfield as the type of person who “lived his life like every minute was his last.” Greenfield’s family describes him as a loving father who had a “playful side” underneath a “tough, street-wise” exterior. Police, though, describe him as a “stickup man” and “chronic armed robber.”

Breion Greenfield, 30, was murdered Wednesday in Martin Luther King Jr. Park. Police have not disclosed how many times Greenfield was struck, but sources say he was shot at least once in the chest. A man who was tinting windows on Proctor Avenue, about 50 yards away from where gunfire erupted in the park, said he heard about five gunshots.

What was supposed to be a Thanksgiving celebration filled with joy and family affection turned into a day of mourning and sorrowful reflection. Greenfield, who previously missed several holiday celebrations due to being incarcerated, had planned a Thanksgiving feast with family. He wasn’t an exceptional cook — fried chicken and fish is what he knew best — but he told his fiancee that he’d help her out as much as he could.

The Greenfield family canceled their Thanksgiving celebration after receiving news of Breion’s death. His mother Monica couldn’t find words to describe her grief, but other relatives spoke about Breion’s desire to change his life to become a better role model for his children.

“He said he didn’t want his son to be anything like him,” his fiancee Dora Watkins, who’s now left to raise their four kids alone, said. “He wanted to change for his son.”
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Man fatally shot in the chest

Police look for clues at a fatal shooting scene in Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Trenton. (Gregg Slaboda - Trentonian)

Police look for clues at a fatal shooting scene in Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Trenton. (Gregg Slaboda - Trentonian)

A man was murdered Wednesday afternoon in Martin Luther King Jr. Park, bringing this year’s homicide toll to 19.

Breion Greenfield, 30, was shot around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday in the 600 block of Southard Street.

Martin Luther King Jr. Park is located near the intersection of Southard Street and Brunswick Avenue. Detectives were on-scene Wednesday using flashlights to search the park for evidence, occasionally placing cones next to potential clues. Investigators also used metal detectors to search the grass for shell casings.

A man was tinting windows on Proctor Avenue, about 50 yards away from where gunfire erupted in the park. He said he heard about five gunshots but didn’t react. “I guess I’m just used to it,” he said. Read more

Retired cop says he is shaken by carnage in Chambersburg

Retired Trenton cop Mickey Forker watches as police investigate the murder of Elvin Kimble in Chambersburg. (Isaac Avilucea - Trentonian)

Retired Trenton cop Mickey Forker watches as police investigate the murder of Elvin Kimble in Chambersburg. (Isaac Avilucea - Trentonian)

For more than 30 years, old-timey Trenton cop Mickey Forker raced toward violence in the capital city in his “wagon.”

In the early-morning hours Tuesday, the violence came to him.

“Chambersburg used to be spotless,” said Forker, a retired Trenton Police officer who has lived in a sparsely furnished apartment on Division Street for 20 years. “Now you have a lot of shootings going on in Chambersburg.”

Firefighters were called Tuesday afternoon to a gruesome scene. They hosed down the blood-stained concrete outside of a home on 700 Division Street, hours after a gun battle claimed the life of 19-year-old Elvin Kimble. His killer or killers remain on the prowl.

The gunshots had faded, but Kimble’s family was still shell-shocked. Read more

Police investigate murder on Division Street

Police investigate a murder on Division Street. November 24, 2015  (Penny Ray - Trentonian)

Police investigate a murder on Division Street. November 24, 2015 (Penny Ray - Trentonian)

A man was shot and killed Tuesday morning, ending a two-month break from homicides in the city.

“There was some type of gun battle out here last night,” a man who was at the murder scene Tuesday said. “But by the time cops got here, the suspects had fled. Police searched the area and couldn’t find anything, so they went on their way. People came out at six o’clock this morning to go to work and they found the kid lying in front of that car over there.”

Elvin Kimble, 19, was found dead behind a home in the 700 block of Division Street around 6:15 a.m. Tuesday. Authorities have not confirmed the exact time that he was shot, but police say officers were dispatched to the intersection of Rusling Street and Chestnut Avenue to investigate a reported shooting around 12:30 a.m. Police say they found evidence of a shooting in that area, but did not find a victim.

Then, about six hours later, police received a call reporting a bullet hole in a vehicle that was parked on Rusling Street. While investigating that matter, police received a call reporting a dead body behind a house on Division Street. Read more

Officers involved in 2013 non-fatal shooting cleared of any wrongdoing

Keith Day

Keith Day

Two Trenton Police officers involved in a 2013 non-fatal shooting have been cleared of any wrongdoing by the county prosecutor’s office, and the case will not be presented to a grand jury.

The shooting happened around 11:45 p.m. on July 14, 2013. According to a report released by the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, police were dispatched to Hudson Street to investigate shots reportedly fired in the area. When the two officers arrived, the report states, they say a man, later identified as Keith Day, standing outside of a red Toyota Corolla, which was parked at a 45-degree angle at the intersection of Hudson and Tyler streets.

The report says the officers heard a gunshot and saw the muzzle flash of a weapon that was fired near a group of people who were standing in front of a nearby house. The officers then jumped out of their patrol car, and one of them noticed Day had a gun in his hand. The report says one officer ordered Day to drop the gun, but was ignored. That officer told investigators he heard two more gunshots and saw a muzzle flash from Day’s gun, which was pointed at the other officer. Read more

Murder trial delayed for Trenton men, second one this week

Trust me, Assistant Prosecutor James Scott said, those hundreds of pages of discovery in this murder case do not contain new information.

“Or if there is new information, it’s minor new information,” Scott said at a pretrial hearing Wednesday.

Maurice Skillman

Maurice Skillman

Hykeem Tucker (Trenton Police Photo)

Hykeem Tucker

That was easy for Scott to say. He has been assigned the murder case of Maurice Skillman and Hykeem Tucker since its inception. Skillman’s attorneys were reassigned the case early this year, following the retirement of Vernon Clash, formerly the deputy public defender for Mercer County.

On the other hand, Scott was called Nov. 11, 2011 to the Baldassari Regency banquet hall in Chambersburg, the site of a grisly murder scene where off-duty Mercer County corrections officer Carl Batie was shot in the head while attending a reelection party for President Barack Obama.Read more

Murder trial still not set, patience tested for family of slain son of Trenton cop Luddie Austin

Raheem Currie walked into the second floor of the Mercer County criminal courthouse Wednesday sporting a crisp black suit. He carried in his right hand a matching briefcase.

James Austin with his twin daughters.

James Austin with his twin daughters.

It was the attire of a business executive not of a man on bail accused of murder. Looks can be deceiving, said retired Trenton cop Luddie Austin.

Nestling down next to his mother outside Courtroom 2C, Currie sat stone-faced on a bench, staring straight ahead of him. Twenty-five feet to his left sat Luddie Austin, the father of 18-year-old James Austin.

Currie is one of two men charged with murder in James Austin’s death. The shooter, Robert Bartley, has accepted a 25-year plea offer for aggravated manslaughter and will testify against Currie at trial, whenever that is.

Currie is accused of calling Bartley and driving him over to James Austin’s home to settle his “ongoing beef.”Read more

Trenton Murder trial for Shaheed Brown ends with hung jury

TRENTON >> For the second time in as many weeks, a Mercer County jury was unable to decide a verdict in a high-profile murder trial, leaving a retired judge and the prosecutor who tried the case scratching their heads.

Defendent Shaheed Brown listens to trial testimony. (Gregg Slaboda - Trentonian)

Defendent Shaheed Brown listens to trial testimony. (Gregg Slaboda - Trentonian)

The defense attorney, Edward Heyburn, said he was disappointed his client must remain behind bars until the retrial following what amounted to an “exhibition game.”

Judge Andrew Smithson said Thursday it was “regrettable” that the jury was hung in the murder trial of former Newark gang member Shaheed Brown. Jurors were also hung in the recently concluded murder trial of Isiah Greene, who was tried down the hallway from Brown.Read more

Trenton man charged with murder pleads guilty to parole violation, hopes it will help spring him from jail

A Trenton man caught up in the 2013 murder of city graffiti artist Andre Corbett pleaded guilty to an unrelated probation violation Wednesday, hoping it would pave the way for him to be released from jail on bail while he awaits trial for murder.

Zihqwan Clemens

Zihqwan Clemens

Zihqwan “Woodiey” Clemens is the lone remaining codefendant of two men charged in connection with Corbett’s broad daylight slaying outside of an apartment complex on Hoffman Avenue and Oakland Street in January 2013. The suspected killer, Keith Wells-Holmes, was acquitted by a jury this year.

But prosecutors have said they intend to move forward with their case against Clemens, the alleged getaway driver. Clemens’ attorney, Andrew Duclair, said he does not understand prosecutors’ decision not to move forward with the case against his client because there is no evidence of a conspiracy between the men to kill Corbett.

Duclair has said his client, who implicated Wells-Holmes for the murder when he was interviewed by authorities, had no knowledge the murder was going down. It has been hinted that Assistant Prosecutor James Scott is trying Clemens because he was not pleased with the way he testified in Wells-Holmes’ murder trial. Read more

Bad blood spills over in court between victim’s family, attorney for murder suspect

An attorney for former Newark gang member Shaheed Brown, who is on trial for murder, has accused the brother of murder victim Enrico Smalley Jr. of disparaging and threatening him during an exchange in the restroom of the courthouse.

Defendent Shaheed Brown listens to trial testimony. (Gregg Slaboda - Trentonian)

Defendent Shaheed Brown listens to trial testimony. (Gregg Slaboda - Trentonian)

The allegations spilled into the courtroom Wednesday when defense attorney Edward Heyburn asked Judge Andrew Smithson for Smalley’s relative to be barred from the courthouse for his safety after he allegedly called him a “piece of sh—.”

Following the brief on-record discussion in the courtroom, Heyburn also alleged to The Trentonian that Smalley’s brother, Billy Blanks, made faces toward his client throughout trial and was warned not to do so by a sheriff’s officer.

On Wednesday, Judge Smithson refused to go along with Heyburn’s request to bar Smalley’s relative, and the man was instructed to stay away from the defense attorney.Read more