Homicide Watch Trenton is a community-oriented news site sponsored by The Trentonian that aims to provide clear information about homicides and the tools necessary to record, report and share our experiences and losses within Trenton, NJ. Read more…
UPDATE: The victim has been identified as 53-year-old Michael Brancolino Jr.
A resident who lives at the intersection of Hudson Street and Hamilton Avenue returned home from picking up her child from school and found crime scene tape blocking the entrance to her home; about 10 shell casings littered the ground in front of her door. Read more
A Trenton man who took a plea deal in connection with his involvement in the 2013 slaying of 19-year-old Rayshawn Ransom was sentenced Friday.
Dyquise Leonard had previously pled guilty to one count of attempted murder for which he would be sentenced to 12 years in prison. On Friday a Mercer County Judge imposed the term of 12 years the plea deal called for. Leonard will have to serve 10 years and two months before he is able to be released. He was sentenced concurrently to 5 years on another file.
“There are certain things that have happened and occurred within my life, and within my family’s life that I can … say ‘Hey, I would like to have justice done today in regards to my son’s life,” Raymond Salter-Ransom, said as he addressed the court. “Because I cannot hug my son, I cannot hold my son, and I can’t look at my son unless I look at pictures … his life was tooken away, my breath was tooken away and so has my wife’s and my other children.”
Ransom asked for justice and demanded the court do what was right.Read more
Zaire Jackson breathed a sigh of relief Friday in a Mercer County Court after he was found not guilty on all three counts against him at his homicide trial. The charges were murder, unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose on allegations he knowingly procuring a handgun without a permit.
After the first not guilty was uttered in the court room Jackson’s family reacted out loud despite the judge’s instruction to refrain from doing so. The victim’s family left the courtroom, too overcome to watch the remainder of the proceedings.
Jackson appeared relieved and hugged defense attorney Steven Lember before leaving the court room.
The jury reached its verdict after submitting two questions regarding possession of the weapon. Jurors wrestled with the concept of whether or not Jackson possessed the gun before he was arrested on April 9, 2012. The jury began deliberations on Tuesday.
Despite their struggle, the jury returned the not guilty verdict around 1 p.m. on Friday.
Jackson was accused in the broad daylight killing of 22-year-old Irvin “Swirv” Jackson, Monday, April 9, 2012, on Moses Alley near North Hermitage Avenue in Trenton. Zaire Jackson, who was not related to the victim, was 17 years old at the time of the murder.
The verdict followed a contentious two-week trial where Jackson’s attorney claimed the state’s case was full of holes.
Jackson’s attorney, Steven Lember, said that regardless of the outcome, he still feels for the victim’s family. He added that his client had already done four years in jail while awaiting for trial. He said that in any event this remains a tragedy for both families.
On the verdict, assistant prosecutor Skylar Weissman said, “the jury has spoken. We feel for the family.”
He added that despite the outcome, “a young man is dead.”
The fate of alleged killer Zaire Jackson hangs in the balance as a jury of his peers deliberates on whether he is guilty or not guilty of murder.
Jackson, 22, of Trenton, has been charged with murder, unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose on allegations he knowingly procured a handgun without a permit and used it to kill an acquaintance who had disrespected him.
The victim of the slaying, 22-year-old Irvin “Swirv” Jackson, was shot in the head and killed in broad daylight at 1:59 p.m. Monday, April 9, 2012, on Moses Alley near North Hermitage Avenue in Trenton. Zaire Jackson, who was not related to the victim, was 17 years old when the murder occurred.
In the criminal trial, all 12 jurors must be unanimously and firmly convinced beyond a reasonable doubt of Jackson’s guilt on each charge to convict him on all counts. Likewise, all 12 jurors must unanimously have reasonable doubt about the defendant’s guilt to acquit him.
In closing arguments Tuesday morning, Jackson’s pool attorney Steven Lember asked the jurors to return a verdict of not guilty on all three counts, saying his client had no motive to murder the victim and that the state’s case is “full of holes” that introduce reasonable doubt into the equation.
Lember said the state has relied upon two “so-called eyewitnesses” in its prosecution of Jackson — testimony from criminal defendants Casey Corker and Robert Patterson — and said they are “two of the least reliable” witnesses who could ever be called to testify in a court of law.
“Both of them say initially they didn’t see the shooting,” Lember said of Corker and Patterson, adding both of them later changed their tune after they got arrested. Surveillance footage at the intersection of North Hermitage Avenue and Moses Alley “simply doesn’t support what these eyewitnesses say occurred,” Lember said of the two witnesses who had identified Jackson as the killer. “They made it up.”
“Reputation, respect and revenge: That is what this case is about,” Mercer County Assistant Prosecutor Skylar Weissman said in his closing arguments Tuesday.
Zaire Jackson, also known as “Cory” and “Philly,” had “dealt drugs to hustle,” Weissman said. “He had a reputation to uphold.”
Weissman said the defendant, days after the murder, told police in an interview that he was arguing with Irvin Jackson on Easter Sunday, April 8, 2012. The assistant prosecutor accused the defendant of being armed and “walking around with a weapon” on that “holiday day.”
Later that day inside a city home, a man known as “Techs” placed a gun to Zaire Jackson’s head, and Jackson believed Irvin Jackson was responsible for Techs being at the house, Weissman said.
Then when Zaire Jackson was relaxing inside another Trenton house that was shot up later that evening — a shooting that almost struck him in the eye — the defendant believed Irvin Jackson was one of the individuals responsible for that shooting, Weismann said.
“This is all about respect, all about reputation,” he said. “He has to show he’s this tough guy, that he makes money.”
Following an eventful Easter Sunday, cellphone records show Zaire Jackson’s mobile device went “silent” from 12:30 p.m. to 2:03 p.m. on Monday, April 9, 2012, and further show he fled into Bucks County, Pennsylvania, following the 1:59 p.m. slaying, Weissman said, adding, “Phone records don’t lie, ladies and gentlemen.”
The jurors began deliberating Tuesday afternoon following closing arguments and jury instructions. The jurors, however, did not reach a verdict on Tuesday, prompting Superior Court Judge Andrew Smithson to dismiss the jurors for the day and instruct them to continue their backroom deliberations at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
A threatening “snitch letter” that a Mercer County Correction Center inmate received that was allegedly intended to intimidate him from testifying in Zaire Jackson’s murder trial was not handwritten by the defendant. Read more
When Zaire Jackson was 17 years old, two detectives at Trenton Police headquarters questioned him extensively in hopes of getting the city teenager to confess to murder. Read more
Two Trenton men charged in separate murder cases will serve hard time behind bars.
Marquis Skillman, 30, received an 11-year prison sentence last week for his role in the 2013 shooting death of Rayshawn Ransom while Tomarkus Whitfield, 39, received a sentence of 19 years and six months in the slammer for killing Pinkey Priester in 2014.
Under Skillman’s plea deal, he admitted guilt to robbery and a weapons offense in exchange for prosecutors dismissing murder charges against him. Skillman was one of the three men charged in connection with the slaying of Ransom, 19, on June 12, 2013, in the city of Trenton. Read more
When police arrested Andrew Alston last week in connection with last November’s fatal Lyft robbery, the 39-year-old Trenton man was found in alleged possession of drugs and a handgun. Read more
Twelve jurors once again could not unanimously agree on whether Isiah Greene is guilty or not guilty of murder.
Superior Court Judge Anthony Massi declared a mistrial on Tuesday after the jurors sent the court a note indicating they had failed to reach a verdict and were done deliberating.
“We are leaning toward trying this case again,” Mercer County Assistant Prosecutor Jim Scott said. “The information that we had in this trial was different, better than we had in the first trial, and we are going to continue to work very hard to bring Isiah Greene to justice.” Read more