Trenton man accused in Smalley slaying arrested in Newark after alleged carjack shooting

A man accused of shooting and killing Enrico Smalley Jr. was arrested in Essex County last week after he allegedly shot a man in the face during a carjacking in Newark.

Prosecutors disclosed that information on the record Friday at Shaheed Brown’s bail hearing, and said that Brown was not charged with the Newark shooting because the victim, who is a Trenton resident, chose not to press charges.

“The victim didn’t want to move forward with pressing charges,” Mercer County Assistant Prosecutor Brian McCauley said.

Around 1:20 a.m. on July 12, police found 20-year-old Smalley lying on the sidewalk in front of La Guira Bar at the corner of Poplar Street and North Clinton Avenue. Smalley suffered multiple gunshot wounds, including one to the head, and was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

The Mercer County Homicide Task Force then developed enough evidence to charge Brown in connection with Smalley’s death. And Brown was arrested last week in Newark after allegedly shooting an unnamed Trenton resident in the face during a carjacking. Those charges were dropped, though, because the victim decided not to file a complaint. After Brown was arrested in Newark, he was transported to Trenton to face charges alleging that he killed Smalley.

At the hearing Friday, prosecutors said witnesses identified Brown as Smalley’s killer. Prosecutors also said they “pieced together” surveillance footage from multiple video cameras, and that the sequence of events leading up to the shooting are “quite chilling.”

According to prosecutors in the case, video footage shows Brown “lurking” outside of La Guira Bar minutes before the shooting. Prosecutors say Smalley was inside the bar at the time, and that Brown asked him to step outside after grabbing his attention from a section of the bar’s entrance located in front of the metal detector.

“The defendant never walked into the bar per se, because he never went through the metal detector,” McCauley said.

Brown and Smalley then walked to the corner of the building and out of the surveillance camera’s view, McCauley said. And moments later, gunshots rang out.

“Mr. Brown was aware of the distance between where the camera stopped working and the location of the shooting,” McCauley said.

McCauley said Brown then went home, packed a bag, and fled from the city in an attempt to elude law enforcement. But Brown’s defense attorney Edward Heyburn said his client fled “for his own protection and not to avoid detection by the police department.”

“At no time is there a depiction of my client shooting the victim,” Heyburn said.

After the bail hearing, Heyburn spoke with a Trentonian reporter outside of the courtroom and said that a week prior to Smalley’s murder, Brown was the target of an attempted shooting outside of La Guira Bar.

A week before Smalley’s murder, Heyburn said, Brown had a physical altercation with a group of men. And during that altercation, someone pulled out a gun and chased Brown down the street. But the gun jammed, Heyburn said, and Brown escaped unscathed.

Brown then returned to the bar a week later. And according to Heyburn, Smalley initiated contact with Brown inside the bar and asked to speak outside. The purpose of the meeting at the corner, Heyburn said, was to clear the air of any misunderstanding or disagreement between the two men. But moments after the two arrived at the corner, gunshots rang out.

“It sounds like Smalley wanted to squash any beef between them and distance himself from the previous shooting attempt,” Heyburn said. “My client didn’t perceive a problem with the meeting because Smalley asked to see him, and he didn’t think Smalley was involved in the attempted shooting. My client was not trying to avoid detection, he was well aware of the video cameras because he had been there before.”

Heyburn said Brown then fled from Trenton because he believed that someone was out to kill him. Heyburn also said he is in the process of personally reviewing surveillance footage, and that he thinks video will show that the gunshots were fired by someone else.

“Police charged my client because they think he had a motivation because of the incident that happened a week prior,” Heyburn said. “I think they want to see if they can shake my client for information.”

Judge Thomas Brown declined to lower Shaheed Brown’s bail Friday, and he also removed the bond option. Brown is now being held on $1 million cash bail.

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