Prosecutor releases report on 2013 fatal police-involved shooting in Trenton

(Left to Right) Detectives William Miller, Edgar Rios and James Letts received the NJ State PBA's highest honor for their bravery during an August 2013 shootout in Trenton. (Contributed Photo)

(Left to Right) Detectives William Miller, Edgar Rios and James Letts received the NJ State PBA’s highest honor for their bravery during an August 2013 shootout in Trenton. (Contributed Photo)

On the morning that Eric McNeil was justifiably shot and killed by police, he presumably knew that his life would end that day.

According to the results of the investigation, which was released Wednesday by the county prosecutor’s office, McNeil sent a text message to a family member earlier that morning stating, “I might not be alive this whole day so ima tell you now dat I love you.”

On the morning of Aug. 15, 2013, McNeil allegedly broke into his ex-girlfriend’s house and brutally beat her; he also stabbed and killed her three-week-old puppy. Police found the victim bruised and beaten and took her to TPD headquarters. McNeil fled the scene before police arrived and was considered armed and dangerous. But unbeknownst to the victim, he later returned to the woman’s home. Read more

Suspect in 2014 stabbing death offered a plea deal for 30 years

The man accused of fatally stabbing 49-year-old Keisha Alexander last year has been offered a plea deal of 30 years in state prison for murder.
Jorge L. Rodriguez, 21, was indicted earlier this year on a dozen charges and faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if he is convicted of killing Alexander.

Jorge Rodriguez

Jorge Rodriguez

His plea deal calls for the 30 years to be run consecutively to any time a judge sentences to him in two separate cases for a January 2014 burglary in Lawrence Township and possession of an imitation firearm from 2013 out of Hamilton, said Casey DeBlasio, spokeswoman for the county prosecutor’s office.

The burglary charge carries a maximum sentence of five years and the imitation gun charge carries a maximum penalty of 18 months in state prison. The sentences are stayed while the murder case is pending, court officials said.
Rodriguez’s attorney, Kathleen Redpath-Perez, said Thursday in court she intends to file court papers to try to suppress her client’s statement to police. She may also seek an expert to determine Rodriguez’s “mental state” when he spoke to police, although she said her client’s competency does not appear to be in question.

Several members of Rodriguez’s family were present for the proceeding. Rodriguez, his hands shackled and wearing orange prison garb and a skull cap, waived to them when he was brought into court by sheriff’s officers.
Rodriguez is accused of breaking into Alexander’s Edgewood Avenue apartment early June 21, 2014. He beat and sexually assaulted Alexander after she confronted him, prosecutors have said, then stabbed her with a knife and left her inside her apartment to die.

A neighbor heard the woman screaming and called police. Alexander died at the scene.
Rodriguez was arrested the same day as the murder remains in jail on $500,000 cash bail.

Police report shows possible drug motive for murder of Andre Corbett

Zihqwan Clemens

Zihqwan Clemens

Detectives who investigated the shooting death of Andre Corbett focused on a dispute, possibly over turf, he may have had with drug dealers working the blocks in and around the crime-ridden housing complex where he was gunned down in 2013, police records show.

While witnesses told the detective who worked on the homicide case that they believed Corbett’s death was somehow drug-related, prosecutors never suggested drugs as a possible motive during the murder trial of suspected killer Keith Wells-Holmes. Not short on innuendo, they lacked the evidence upon which to base such an assertion.

Wells-Holmes, who had jokingly referred to himself by a nickname given to a notorious cocaine kingpin, was ultimately cleared in Corbett’s murder.

One of the few references to drugs at his trial came when convicted felon and admitted drug dealer Michael “Murder Mike” Barnes memorably referred to Corbett as a “crackhead.”

The Trentonian had obtained a 25-page police report written by Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office Detective Bryan Cottrell shortly after the conclusion of Wells-Holmes’ murder trial. Read more

Witness in other high-profile cases will likely get murder trial for his own charges

He made a cameo in the murder trial of now-exonerated Keith Wells-Holmes, when he took the stand and invoked his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself.

Isiah Greene’s name has consistently popped up in relation to murder allegations.

Though he was never charged, Greene was at the center of Wells-Holmes’ defense as a more likely suspect in the slaying of Andre Corbett after it was revealed that his DNA showed up on a can inside a gold van authorities linked with the murder. Read more

Trenton man accused of killing barber rejects plea deal

A Trenton man suspected of killing of a city barber in 2013 has rejected prosecutors’ final plea offer and will head to trial.

Zaire Smith is the only remaining co-defendant in the murder of 20-year-old Rasheen Jones, who was shot in the head July 23, 2013, in the city’s West Ward, following a botched robbery, authorities have said.

Jones had worked for 15 years cutting hair at Mason’s barbershop before he was gunned down while walking home from a convenience store. He left behind two daughters, aged 5 and 7.

Smith was arrested alongside Knovell Desmond in connection with the murder. However, Desmond resolved murder charges by pleading guilty to two counts of robbery and a weapons count in exchange for a 10-year state prison sentence. Read more

Murder indictments handed up in Trenton shooting death of mentally ill victim

By Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman

Rodney Burke

Rodney Burke

Three men accused of shooting and killing intellectually disabled city resident Rodney Burke during an attempted robbery last year have all been indicted this week on first-degree felony murder charges and related offenses, the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office announced Friday.

The indictment alleges Kenneth Hines, 35, Alexandria Gomez, 31, and Jaquan Dallas, 20, all conspired to commit an armed robbery, which led to the death of Burke, according to the prosecutor’s office.

Burke, 48, was found inside his apartment on the 1000 block of South Broad Street suffering from multiple gunshot wounds about 2 a.m. Nov. 4, 2014. Medics rushed Burke to Saint Francis Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead shortly thereafter. Read more

Prosecutors to co-defendant: No killer, no problem

Zihqwan Clemens

Zihqwan Clemens

Undeterred following the acquittal of the accused killer, prosecutors are forging ahead with their murder case against Zihqwan Clemens.

But in light of the acquittal of former co-defendant and accused killer Keith Wells-Holmes, a judge next week will consider lowering the $1 million bail for Clemens.

Clemens, known as “Woodiey,” is accused of driving the getaway vehicle, a gold minivan registered to his girlfriend, in the January 2013 slaying of Trenton graffiti artist Andre Corbett. Prosecutors believe he drove Wells-Holmes to and from the murder scene.

In May, Wells-Holmes was found not guilty of gunning down Corbett in broad daylight outside of an apartment complex on the corner of Hoffman Avenue and Oakland Street.

Wells-Holmes’ attorney, Caroline Turner, convinced jurors another man was responsible for killing Corbett and that her client was innocent.

Following his acquittal, Wells-Holmes agreed do an interview with The Trentonian but backed out when he realized he would not be paid for it. Read more

Murder trial pushed back as prosecutors seek possible DNA evidence

A judge delayed the murder trial for three men suspected in the fatal shooting death of 34-year-old Emilio Lopez, in part so prosecutors can seek a superseding indictment that would charge the defendants with robbery and felony murder.

Despite an objection from one defense attorney, Assistant Prosecutor James Scott on Thursday was granted an adjournment in the murder trial of Roberto Cruz, Kenneth Rivera and Jose Rivera, all of whom are cousins and all of whom were set to be tried in late September on counts of murder and weapons offenses. Read more

Longtime friends ready to testify against defendant in 2012 Trenton murder

Four men plan to point the finger at Zaire Jackson for the 2012 murder of Irvin “Swirv” Jackson, prosecutors disclosed at a pretrial hearing Wednesday.

Their names are Casey Corker, Tiemear Lewis, Robert Patterson and Seption Diggs. Read more

Prosecutors want DNA sample from murder suspect to tie him to Hamilton robbery

Prosecutors hoping to secure forensics tying a Trenton man charged with the 2011 murder of a North Trenton pharmacist to the robbery of a Hamilton convenience store that occurred days later were dealt a roadblock Tuesday when the defendant refused to provide a DNA swab.

Assistant Prosecutor Lewis Korngut must now make a formal application to the court in order to compel Jamar Myers to submit a DNA swab, known as a buccal swab, taken from the inner cheek.

One of Myers’ attorneys called the request a “fishing expedition.” Read more