Prosecutors to co-defendant: No killer, no problem
Undeterred following the acquittal of the accused killer, prosecutors are forging ahead with their murder case against Zihqwan Clemens.
But in light of the acquittal of former co-defendant and accused killer Keith Wells-Holmes, a judge next week will consider lowering the $1 million bail for Clemens.
Clemens, known as “Woodiey,” is accused of driving the getaway vehicle, a gold minivan registered to his girlfriend, in the January 2013 slaying of Trenton graffiti artist Andre Corbett. Prosecutors believe he drove Wells-Holmes to and from the murder scene.
In May, Wells-Holmes was found not guilty of gunning down Corbett in broad daylight outside of an apartment complex on the corner of Hoffman Avenue and Oakland Street.
Wells-Holmes’ attorney, Caroline Turner, convinced jurors another man was responsible for killing Corbett and that her client was innocent.
Following his acquittal, Wells-Holmes agreed do an interview with The Trentonian but backed out when he realized he would not be paid for it.
Clemens, who has been offered a plea deal of 30 years for murder, appeared Friday before Judge Robert Billmeier for a status hearing. The judge said he would entertain lowering Clemens’ bail at a hearing set for Monday.
However, the judge said even if he agrees to release Clemens on his own recognizance, it might be irrelevant since Clemens is also being held for violating probation on a drug charge and is not constitutionally entitled to bail on the VOP. Clemens has been jailed since he was arrested following the Jan. 21, 2013 murder.
Clemens had invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in choosing not testify at Well-Holmes’ murder trial. He changed his mind when a judge granted him immunity, protecting him from having his testimony used against him at his trial.
Though he had previously implicated his co-defendant as the shooter in a taped interview with authorities, Clemens testified at trial that Wells-Holmes did not kill Corbett.
He contended he had been paid $5 to drive Wells-Holmes over to “his people’s house” on Oakland Street sometime on the morning of Jan. 21, 2013. Wells-Holmes went into the house, returning after about 10 minutes. Then Clemens drove him to another part of the city and dropped him off.
On the day Corbett was killed, Clemens acknowledged driving around a gold Ford Windstar authorities linked to the murder. But he denied he nor Wells-Holmes were near the murder scene when Corbett was shot.
Clemens previously told authorities he heard gunshots and saw Wells-Holmes run back toward his gold van, prosecutors said.
A detective testified surveillance footage captured the gold van parked up the street from where Corbett was shot. The van was seized when Clemens was arrested on an outstanding warrant.
Clemens had lied to authorities, claiming he did not know the owner of the van, which was registered to his girlfriend, according to testimony.
Authorities have said Clemens called Wells-Holmes while he was in police custody, but Clemens disputed that under oath, saying he never called to Wells-Holmes. Cell records showed otherwise.
Clemens said the prospect of not seeing his son again influenced his decision to cooperate with authorities and give them information he believed they wanted in order to charge Wells-Holmes for the murder.
Despite the jury’s verdict, Assistant Prosecutor James Scott said he was confident Well-Holmes killed Corbett, adding the acquittal would not affect his case against Clemens.