Trial postponed in 2007 homicide case

TRENTON – Ivelis Turell, whose trial for allegedly killing her boyfriend in 2007 finally started Monday, has won another legal delay, this time so an appeals court can decide if she can change her mind again about her lawyer.

With jury selection underway, the suspect asked Mercer County Superior Court Judge Pedro Jiminez if she could go back to her original lawyer, Timothy Smith, who dropped her case eight months ago.

Assistant Mercer County Prosecutor Skylar Weissman opposed the move, as did the judge, who ruled against her. That prompted her current lawyers to file a motion with the appeals court to permit the return of the former lawyer.

Turell, 34, of the 200 block of Ferry Street and free on $250,000 bail, has been indicted twice on homicide and weapons charges for the May 2, 2007, shooting death of Michael Whitaker, 35.

According to police, Turell shot heating and air conditioning technician Whitaker in the chest, killing him, and then turned the gun on herself, shooting her shoulder.

The case against the woman, who had a child with Whitaker, was thrown out in 2008 by Mercer Superior Court Judge Thomas P. Kelly, who said he thought the case was one of self-defense in a horrible domestic violence event.

But Weissman again presented the case to a grand jury with more charges and new evidence. Again, she was indicted.

Turell was later offered a plea agreement in which she would plead guilty to manslaughter for a seven-year term, but she turned that down.

Turell, if found guilty, faces 30 years to life in prison.

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