Admitted getaway driver in robbery murder has bail reduced
A Trenton man has admitted driving the getaway car in a botched robbery that led to the murder of a 48-year-old man, prosecutors said, but he is not the one who pulled trigger.
Kenneth Hines, 34, is charged with murder as an accomplice and conspiracy in the shooting death of Rodney Burke and is locked up at Mercer County Correction Center. But police are still searching for two men, including the gunman, who were involved in a Nov. 4 plot to rob Burke when he emerged from his 1016 South Broad Street apartment, prosecutors said at Hines’ bail hearing Wednesday.
For his part, Hines has admitted dropping off one of the co-defendants, Alexa Gomez, 30, at the South Broad Street home, which prosecutors said was a drug stash house, sometime before the murder. He returned some time later, accompanied by two men, prosecutors said.
Gomez was inside the home with Burke and two others when she convinced him to leave the apartment with her around 1:45 a.m. Witnesses said the woman acted suspicious and glanced at her phone and out the window. Outside, Hines waited behind the wheel of a white Suzuki SUV with the unidentified men for Gomez and Burke to emerge from the apartment, prosecutors said.
Mercer County Assistant Prosecutor Lewis Korngut said another man went downstairs to lock the door behind Gomez and Burke when he heard multiple gunshots ring out. He found Burke sprawled out bleeding in front of the apartment. The two men, along with Gomez, climbed into the vehicle and sped off, Korngut said. Burke died a short time later at the hospital.
Gomez was tracked to New York after she absconded from a hallway house. She remains locked up at Rikers Island in New York on unrelated charges, county prosecutor’s office spokeswoman Casey DeBlasio said. It’s unclear when she will be extradited to New Jersey to answer to charges of murder and conspiracy, and her first court appearance has not been scheduled.
Hines appeared by video for a bail hearing before Judge Gerald Council. His initial bail was set at $1 million, but was reduced to $750,000 cash.
Hines told police he drove Gomez, who he has a child with, to Burke’s home and returned shortly before the shooting. He claims he didn’t know the men who got into his vehicle, Korngut said. But surveillance captures two black males getting out of Hines’ SUV and getting back into it after the shooting, Korngut said.
Korngut didn’t say whether police found shell casings at the murder scene.
Hines has five prior felony convictions and served prison time for weapons offenses. In 2004, he was sentenced to 15 years for being a felon in possession of a handgun. Hines is being additionally being charged with drug possession as a result of his involvment in the murder.