Judge keeps murder charges, throws out lesser counts in Batie murder trial

A judge with a history of taking decisions out of jurors’ hands on Friday dismissed two counts of aggravated assault, but left untouched more serious counts of murder brought against two Trenton men suspected of killing Mercer County corrections officer Carl Batie in 2012.

Carl Batie

Carl Batie

Judge Andrew Smithson said there was insufficient evidence – what he called “rank speculation” – for a jury to consider whether suspected killers Maurice Skillman and Hykeem Tucker pointed a handgun at Batie’s brother, Karshawn, in the early-morning hours of Nov. 11, 2012, outside of Baldassari Regency banquet hall in Trenton.

“Would they be guessing?” Smithson said. “Would they be speculating?”

The judge’s decision leaves three counts each remaining against Skillman and Tucker, who were each initially indicted on six counts.

Before the start of trial, prosecutors dismissed another count of aggravated assault brought against both men for allegedly firing on a woman who was on the balcony at the time of the shooting.Read more

TEC-9 guns discussed at Trenton Murder trial

Marquis Skillman knew Hykeem Tucker by the nickname “Tex.”

When it is spelled another way, it can refer to a TEC-9 handgun.

Hykeem Tucker

Hykeem Tucker

So it was peculiar when a firearms expert testified Thursday he believes Carl Batie’s killer used a TEC-9 to shoot him in the head Nov. 11, 2012, while he stood on the balcony of the Baldassari Regency banquet hall in Trenton.

Graphic testimony from a medical examiner about how the Mercer County corrections officer died was wrapped around the firearms expert’s opinion about the handgun used to shoot Batie. It also hinted at potential surprises in closing arguments.

Testimony from Detective Sgt. Christopher Clayton of the New Jersey State Police appeared to leave the door open for prosecutors to argue there may have been two shooters. Read more

DNA evidence discussed at Trenton murder trial for killing of corrections officer

A forensic scientist testified Wednesday an individual named Edward Acosta was “the source” of genetic material on a Giants Snapback hat investigators recovered outside of a banquet hall where Mercer County corrections officer Carl Batie was killed in 2012.

Carl Batie

Carl Batie

For prosecutors, the DNA match to Acosta could be a red herring that confuses jurors deciding whether two Trenton men are responsible for killing Batie on Nov. 11, 2012.

The DNA results did not tie suspected killers Maurice Skillman or Hykeem Tucker to the murder of Batie. And they said less about the mystery man Acosta, other than that he was in or around the area of the Baldassari Regency banquet hall Nov. 11, 2012.

Melissa Johns from the New Jersey State Police crime laboratory testified the baseball hat was one of three items she examined for DNA, small traces of biological material unique to each individual that can be recovered from hair, saliva, blood, skin and other bodily fluids.Read more

Trenton murder suspect’s interrogation played for jurors, brother of other suspect quiet on the witness stand

When Hykeem Tucker was told inside an interrogation room at Trenton Police on Jan. 24, 2013 that he was being charged with the murder of Mercer County corrections officer Carl Batie, he repeatedly told detectives it was all “bulls—” and they had the wrong man.

Hykeem Tucker

Hykeem Tucker

“I didn’t pull no trigger,” he said. “Why the f– am I under arrest? I don’t got nothing to do with nothing.”

Tape of Tucker’s dramatic denial, played for jurors Tuesday, was the explosive beginning to an action-packed day in the murder trial of two men suspected of killing Batie on Nov. 11, 2012, in what the authorities billed at the time as a gang-related shooting that claimed an innocent bystander.

The brother of accused triggerman Maurice Skillman also testified, and trial wrapped up for the day as Skillman’s attorneys began a withering cross examination of Scott Peterson, a Trenton Police detective who led the investigation into Batie’s death.Read more

Trenton detective testifies Maurice Skillman fatally shot Mercer County corrections officer

TRENTON >> “Tall Guy” and “Varsity Jacket” are names a detective assigned to two men he said are responsible for killing Mercer County corrections officer Carl Batie outside a city banquet hall in 2012.

Maurice Skillman

Maurice Skillman

Scott Peterson, the Trenton Police detective who led the investigation into the Nov. 11, 2012 slaying of Batie at the Baldassari Regency banquet hall, used a red laser pointer to pick people on surveillance tapes shown to jurors Monday.

“Tall Guy” referred to Maurice Skillman, who towered above “Varsity Jacket,” the moniker given to his alleged accomplice, Hykeem Tucker.

After reviewing 30 hours of surveillance from five camera angles, Peterson told jurors he positively identified Skillman as the shooter. Peterson said video from the parking lot showed Skillman raising his arm right before a small spark flashes on the tape. Read more

Trenton man charged in Mercer County corrections officer’s slaying was arrested night of murder

Maurice Skillman

Maurice Skillman

Maurice Skillman was arrested for fighting with another black man outside of Trenton banquet hall on the same day a Mercer County corrections officer was gunned down there while attending a re-election party for President Barack Obama, according to testimony.

Trenton Police Officer Timothy Long said he pulled up to a panicked scene outside of the Baldassari Regency banquet hall in the early-morning hours of Nov. 11, 2012.

Hundreds of people had poured out into the streets after Mercer County corrections officer Carl Batie was shot in the head while he was talking to a security guard on the balcony of the banquet hall, and several street fights had broken out near the intersection of Morris Avenue and Division Street, Long said.

Long said his attention was drawn toward two black males scuffling on Division Street. He ordered them to stop fighting and looked to intervene when they shrugged him off. Read more

Brother of slain Mercer County corrections officer: ‘He’s not gonna live’

Twenty shots, in rapid succession. Like they were fired from a semi-automatic weapon.

That’s what 28-year-old Karshawn Batie told a jury he heard.

Carl Batie

Carl Batie

He testified Wednesday before a packed courtroom, on the opening day of the murder trial of Maurice Skillman and Hykeem Tucker, two Trenton men charged with the November 11, 2012 murder of Mercer County corrections officer Carl Batie.

A bullet struck Carl Batie in the head – it entered about two inches up from his eye – while he was standing on a packed balcony at the Baldassari Regency banquet hall in Chambersburg.

Karshawn Batie, a Burlington County corrections officer and the victim’s brother, said he and Carl attended a re-election party for President Barack Obama. Karshawn recalled his brother shelled out the cover fee for both of them to get in. Read more

Murdered Trenton man broke into suspect’s car before being killed: Prosecutors

Jermaine Johnson

Jermaine Johnson

One hour before he was killed in a gun battle on the hardscrabble streets of Trenton, Elvin Kimble and another person burglarized the vehicle of a man who is charged in his murder, prosecutors said.

When 40-year-old Jermaine Johnson, of Ewing, gave chase, Kimble fired in his direction, Assistant Prosecutor Tim Ward said.

This was the story provided to investigators by someone who was apparently with Kimble in the hours before his death.

Ward described the individual as a witness and would not say whether it was the person who helped Kimble burglarize Johnson’s van. Ward also refused to say if the
individual has been charged. Read more

East Ward Councilwoman on Trenton’s gun violence: “There’s a better way”

Law enforcement investigate a murder in the 100 block of Walnut Avenue. January 20, 2016. (Penny Ray - Trentonian)

Law enforcement investigate a murder in the 100 block of Walnut Avenue. January 20, 2016. (Penny Ray - Trentonian)

Last October, SAGE Coalition aimed to uplift the community and inspire East Ward residents by painting murals on various abandoned properties located in a portion of the city’s Wilbur Section.

That inspiration was shattered Wednesday night when 21-year-old Tyquise Timmons was gunned down while on a porch in the 100 block of Walnut Avenue.

Witnesses say they heard about eight gunshots, and several crime scene evidence placards littered the street and sidewalk outside of the home from where Timmons was removed. Police have not confirmed how many times Timmons was shot, but sources say he was struck at least once in the head.

Just before police removed the body bag off of the porch, law enforcement officers noticed media personnel standing nearby and turned off the street lighting. It was a gesture of compassion for Timmons’ family, his friends and the deceased himself.

“The last few months on that block has been pretty hectic,” SAGE Coalition artist Will “Kasso” Condry said Thursday morning. “I offer my condolences to his family, and hopefully this violence can stop before there’s any more deaths.” Read more

Man shot and killed Wednesday night

Law enforcement investigate a murder in the 100 block of Walnut Avenue. January 20, 2016. (Penny Ray - Trentonian)

Law enforcement investigate a murder in the 100 block of Walnut Avenue. January 20, 2016. (Penny Ray - Trentonian)

UPDATE: The victim has been identified as 21-year-old Tyquise Timmons

Just before police removed the body bag out of a home on Walnut Avenue, law enforcement officers noticed media personnel standing nearby and turned off the street lighting.

It was a gesture of compassion for the victim’s family, his friends and the deceased himself.

The man, whose identity is being withheld pending family notification, was shot and killed around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday in the 100 block of Walnut Avenue. At least eight crime scene evidence placards littered the street and sidewalk outside of the home from where the man was removed. But authorities have not said whether the shots were fired from inside or outside of the house.

Witnesses say they heard about eight gunshots, but police have not confirmed how many times the man was shot. Sources say he was struck at least once in the head. Read more