Attorneys agree to keep evidence about drugs out of Trenton murder trial
Jurors will never know slain hip-hop artist Jafar Lewis was allegedly gunned down in 2013 over a drug debt.
Attorneys for both sides agreed to scrub references to a drug debt at the upcoming murder trial of accused killer Wayne Bush. Prosecutors will be allowed to suggest Lewis owed Bush money as a motive for the killing but cannot elaborate beyond that.
Bush, 39, was engaged to a relative of Lewis at the time of the Aug. 23, 2013 murder. He was supposed to go on trial July 6 on charges that he fatally shot Lewis after he believed Lewis stiffed him out of drug proceeds.
Bush rejected a final plea offer of 29 years for aggravated manslaughter.
Judge Robert Billmeier said Wednesday he expects to push back the start of trial but he did not say when it would be rescheduled.
In the meantime, Assistant Prosecutor Lewis Korngut and defense attorney Jack Furlong settled their dispute over testimony suggesting the defendant and Lewis were partners in an illicit trade that went awry.
Lewis’ fiancée, Twanna Robinson, who claims to have witnessed the murder, testified at an evidentiary hearing earlier this month that Lewis was involved in a “business relationship” with Bush, a known heroin dealer.
The men, who were acquainted for years, had a falling out after Lewis was provided 80 bricks of heroin to sell and was supposed to return the profits to Bush.
Robinson recalled being in a vehicle with Bush and Lewis about a week before the murder, when Bush allegedly unloaded 80 bricks of heroin in the back seat.
Robinson said she unloaded the bricks from her vehicle and placed them into the basement of the home the couple shared. Later, Lewis drove with her to a remote wooded part of Ewing and buried the heroin.
Billmeier previously said he was inclined to issue a written opinion that would have effectively “sanitized” Robinson’s testimony because it was prejudicial to Bush, once a close friend of the Lewis family who was engaged to Lewis’ cousin, Ghadah.
Prosecutors must find a way around drug references contained in evidence, which includes numerous text messages and private Facebook messages between Lewis and Ghadah the day of the murder.
Furlong objected to Robinson’s testimony about the drug venture because it did not appear in prior statements she gave police. She came forward with the information last month.