Gun used in Enrico Smalley murder linked to Essex County murder, 2 Trenton shootings
The murder weapon used in last year’s fatal shooting death of Enrico Smalley outside a violence-riddled city bar is linked with a separate homicide in Essex County and two shootings in Trenton, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Prosecutor said shell casings at those scenes ballistically matched ones recovered from La Guira Bar, where authorities say suspected killer Shaheed Brown
opened fire July 12 on Smalley, striking him several times, including once in the head. Smalley was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Authorities have not recovered the murder weapon, Assistant Prosecutor Brian McCauley said, a critical piece of evidence that could be used to possibly tie Brown, 30, to the crimes.
For now, Brown, who pleaded not guilty and rejected a plea offer calling for a 45-year prison term for the murder of Smalley, has not been charged in the Essex murder or city shootings.
As a repeat offender, with convictions for aggravated assault and aggravated arson, Brown faces up to 60 years in prison if he is convicted of murder. He remains jailed on $1 million bail.
Brown was arrested in Newark in August for the death of Smalley who was found on the sidewalk outside of La Guira Bar, on the corner of Poplar Street and North Clinton Avenue. Brown was indicted in November on counts of first-degree murder and weapons offenses.
Prosecutors did not identify the murder victim in Essex County, which took place sometime after Smalley was gunned down. But McCauley said Brown was believed to be in Essex County around the time of the murder. An investigation is ongoing and he did not say whether authorities have enough evidence to pursue charges against Brown. A spokesperson for the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office was not able to provide further information Wednesday.
Brown was previously suspected of shooting a Trenton man in the face during a carjacking in Newark, prosecutors had said at a bail hearing. But charges were never brought against Brown because the victim refused to cooperate with authorities.
Brown’s attorney has asked a judge to fast-track the case for trial. He faces a life sentence if he is convicted of the charges. Edward Heyburn, Brown’s attorney, has said someone other than Brown killed Smalley.
After the attorney released a video to The Trentonian he claimed showed the identity of the gunman, a judge issued a gag order preventing attorneys from discussing the case outside of court. Superior Court Judge Robert Billmeier was concerned pretrial publicity would prevent Brown from receiving a fair trial.
The video appears to show a man known only as “King” reaching for something tucked into the left side of his waistband moments before Smalley was shot.
Heyburn said police did not attempt to interview the man in order to rule him out as a suspect.
McCauley said release of the video discouraged a potential witness from cooperating with the investigation and accused Heyburn of “doctoring” the video for his client’s benefit.
Heyburn denied violating ethics rules by releasing the video because he did it to counter “adverse publicity.”
La Guira Bar has come under fire after several city residents, outraged about a second fatal shooting, said the establishment has become a hotspot for violence.
In December, Patrick Walker was gunned down outside the bar, leading officials from the Alcoholic Beverage Control to inquire about the establishment’s practices.