Two suspects in Trenton murders reject plea deals, will go to trial

A suspect in four New Jersey murders was offered 40 years in prison Monday for guilty pleas to his two alleged slayings in Mercer County last summer.

Alton Jones, 23, appeared before Mercer Superior Court Judge Pedro Jimenez along with his suspected accomplice in the first murder, Dyquise Leonard, who rejected a deal giving him 13 years in prison.

Both were charged with killing Rayshawn Ransom, 19, in a hail of bullets fired at him and two friends sitting in a car along Passaic Street on June 12, 2013.

Jones is additionally charged with firing away at a group of 30 people on Passaic three days later and hitting Tiara Green, 19, in the stomach, killing her, before fleeing to Connecticut.

Assistant Mercer Prosecutor Lew Korngut made the plea offers, which both were rejected, meaning the allegations against them will be heard at trial, and each could get more than 30 years in prison if convicted.

Authorities said Jones and Leonard, 20, are gang members from the West Ward who had some kind of dispute with the crowd on Passaic Street.

A meeting about a truce was set up but as soon as the factions came face to face, Jones, Leonard, and Marquis Skillman allegedly started pumping bullets into the car. Two of Ransom’s friends were wounded in the deadly barrage.

Korngut said investigators tied Jones to the deadly shot, which came from a distinctive 10 mm automatic handgun that witnesses pointed out to street cops after it was tossed from the Cadillac Eldorado getaway car around the corner from the shooting scene.

Leonard is being represented by lawyer Diane Frost. Jones, who also faces two other murder charges in Hudson County, had defenseman Andrew DuClair.

Jones was ordered held on $1.5 million cash bail after his arrest. Superior Court Judge Robert Billmeier also ordered high bail for Leonard and both appeared in shackles and prison jumpsuits for the hearings, which were attended by several members of both victims’ families.

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