Trenton murder trial marked with drama, uncommon proceedings in fifth day

TRENTON >> Bleary eyed attorneys walked out of court Wednesday following

Keith Wells Holmes

Keith Wells Holmes

an exhausting, drama-filled day in the murder trial of Keith Wells-Holmes that required them to work through part of their lunch hour.

Tempers flared as a judge wagged his finger at a defense attorney. Witnesses invoked their constitutional rights to avoid self-incrimination. And Wells-Holmes’ codefendant, who is being tried separately, was granted immunity by a judge to testify against Wells-Holmes but ended up exonerating him for the first time in front of the jury.

An attorney who shall remain nameless apprised by multiple people who participated in and sat in on the trial Wednesday said everyone candidly described the proceedings the same way: “S—t show.”Read more

Alleged getaway driver granted immunity to testify at Trenton murder trial

TRENTON >> The alleged getaway driver of Keith Wells-Holmes has been

Keith Wells Holmes

Keith Wells Holmes

granted immunity to testify in Wells-Holmes’ murder trial, a rare move that required permission from the state Attorney General’s Office, prosecutors said.

Zihqwan Clemens took the stand at a hearing outside the jury’s presence Wednesday morning and repeatedly responded to prosecutors’ questions by invoking his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself.

Clemens is accused of driving a gold Ford Windstar van on the day of Trenton graffiti artist Andre Corbett was gunned down outside an apartment complex on the corner of Hoffman Avenue and Oakland Street. He has been offered a plea deal calling for a 30-year sentence for his alleged role in the murder, prosecutors have said.Read more

Drug dealer testifies that suspect shot, killed graffiti artist

Admitted drug dealer and convicted felon Michael Barnes said on the stand Tuesday he planned to disregard prosecutors’ subpoena to testify in the murder trial of a Trenton man accused of gunning down city graffiti artist Andre Corbett.

He testified that he decided against absconding after friends told him he was mentioned in newspaper articles in which the attorney for defendant Keith Wells-Holmes attacked Barnes’ credibility and referred to him as a “workhouse snitch.”
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Key witnesses expected to testify about Corbett murder this week

Keith Wells Holmes

Keith Wells Holmes

The murder case against Keith Wells-Holmes appears to rely centrally on video surveillance and the word of a Mercer County detective.

Absent a clear-cut motive and the murder weapon, a 9 mm luger which was never recovered, prosecutors could be looking to Wells-Holmes’ alleged getaway driver, Zihqwan “Woody” Clemens, and a jailhouse informant known on the streets as “Murder Mike” to bolster their case against the man they believed killed Trenton graffiti artist Andre Corbett.
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Lawyer claims police have ‘wrong man’ for 2013 Trenton murder of Andre Corbett

Defense attorneys usually operate in an arena of reasonable doubt, a high hurdle prosecutors must meet in order to convince a jury to convict someone accused of a crime.

Reasonable doubt should not be confused with doubtless, which is what separates Caroline Turner from most defense attorneys.

During opening statements Thursday in the murder trial of Keith Wells-Holmes,

Keith Wells Holmes

Keith Wells Holmes

Turner left no doubt in the minds of jurors she is firmly convinced her client is innocent of fatally shooting 35-year-old Andre Corbett in broad daylight Jan. 21, 2013, in front on an apartment complex on Hoffman Avenue and Oakland Street.

“They got the wrong man,” Turner said. She repeated this several times, highlighting what she said are distinct differences in articles of clothing between the shooter and her client. She said the shooter was wearing black pants compared with Wells-Holmes’ blue pants. The shooter’s hoodie, while the same color of Wells-Holmes, was fitted; her client’s was baggy.Read more

Man who fatally struck John Covington with a car is charged with vehicular homicide

John Covington of Trenton was killed in January when he was struck by a car. (Contributed photo)

John Covington of Trenton was killed in January when he was struck by a car. (Contributed photo)

The man who fatally struck 44-year-old John Covington with a vehicle as he was crossing the street pushing a shopping cart has been charged with vehicular homicide.

“A detective was able to establish enough probable cause to charge Robert McFadden with death by auto,” Lt. Steven Varn said.

McFadden, 22, surrendered to law enforcement Wednesday after learning that he was charged. He was released from jail after posting 10 percent of the $150,000 cash or bond bail. Read more

Legal team for ‘Boom Bat’ files motion for fifth trial

Convicted gang leader Jose Negrete’s past murder trials were wracked by jury problems. His legal team said in court papers filed this week in Superior Court his fourth trial, dubbed a “trial by transcript” by defense attorney Jack Furlong, was no different.

The Latin Kings leader was awarded a new trial when the appellate court overturned his 2009 conviction, which led to an 80-year sentence, because of jury misconduct. A jury member knew the father of the victim’s children and made statements to panelists that were not a part of evidence at trial.

In this case, Negrete’s attorneys say this jury should not have known this was TRT-L-negrete jose 0560Negrete’s fourth trial for ordering the murder of gang “queen” Jeri Lynn Dotson and the near-strangulation of gang turncoat Alex Ruiz in August 2004.

But Furlong & Krasny associate Andrew Ferencevych wrote in a motion for new trial that any chance of that was eviscerated once prosecutors introduced transcripts of prior witness testimony from Negrete’s murder trials in 2008 and 2009.

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Deceased Elmer Street fire victim identified as Alberto Moya-Cuevas from Mexico

This boarded up, vacant  house was set on fire in March. The blaze injured two people, one of which died in the hospital. (Photo taken April 29, 2015 - Penny Ray/Trentonian)

This boarded up, vacant house was set on fire in March. The blaze injured two people, one of which died in the hospital. (Photo taken April 29, 2015 - Penny Ray/Trentonian)

The man who died earlier this month as a result of injuries suffered during an arson fire has been identified as 48-year-old Alberto Moya-Cuevas from Mexico.

Moya-Cuevas is one of two people who were injured March 12 after a boarded up, vacant house was set on fire in the 200 block of Elmer Street. When firefighters arrived on-scene, they found heavy flames venting out of a front bedroom window, and a fire victim was sitting outside of the house. Firefighters later found Moya-Cuevas lying on a mattress in the third-floor attic.

“I only got a quick look at Moya-Cuevas, but it appeared that the majority of the injuries suffered by him was due to heavy smoke,” Chief Michael Welsh said Wednesday morning. “I didn’t really see a lot of blistering or bubbling of his skin, but like I said, I didn’t really get a good look at him.” Read more

Attorneys agree to keep evidence about drugs out of Trenton murder trial

Jurors will never know slain hip-hop artist Jafar Lewis was allegedly gunned down in 2013 over a drug debt.

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Attorneys for both sides agreed to scrub references to a drug debt at the upcoming murder trial of accused killer Wayne Bush. Prosecutors will be allowed to suggest Lewis owed Bush money as a motive for the killing but cannot elaborate beyond that.

Bush, 39, was engaged to a relative of Lewis at the time of the Aug. 23, 2013 murder. He was supposed to go on trial July 6 on charges that he fatally shot Lewis after he believed Lewis stiffed him out of drug proceeds.
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Joseph Gaines was killed over an outstanding drug debt: Prosecutors

Prosecutors believe a former city drug dealer who had reportedly turned his life around to become a mentor for troubled city youth was killed because of an outstanding drug debt.

The revelation came at a hearing Tuesday in the case of alleged killer, Markquice “Tank” Thomas. Read more