Trenton man says he was high, drunk can’t recall beating city activist to death
A convicted felon released from state prison just four months ago was caught by surveillance cameras brutally beating a 72-year-old Trenton man, prosecutors said.
In response, the suspected killer has claimed he was high and drunk and has no recollection of the assault which has left the community reeling.
“He didn’t know what occurred,” said Kathleen Redpath-Perez, the attorney for suspected killer Antonio Sloan.
Redpath-Perez said it was appropriate to hold judgement until all the facts come out before deciding whether Sloan is a “cold-blooded murderer.”
Sloan, known on the streets as “Riot,” is charged with counts of murder, felony murder and robbery after prosecutors said he beat, stomped and robbed well-known city resident James Wells so severely he eventually succumbed to his injuries. He has denied he had any reason to rob Wells.
“If nothing cries out for a heinous crime, this does,” said Skylar Weissman, assistant prosecutor and chief of the homicide unit.
Sloan had his bail maintained at $1 million at his bail appearance before Superior Court Judge Timothy Lydon in Mercer County criminal court.
Sloan was caught on camera during three separate sequences beating Wells around 8 p.m. Sept. 13 in the area of East Hanover and North Broad streets.
The 72-year-old man appeared unconscious at one point, sprawled out on the ground, when Sloan stomped him in the head three times, Weissman said.
After he finished beating him, Sloan rifled through Wells’ pockets looking for belongings, prosecutors said. Sloan fled from the scene and was later arrested at his home on Second Street by the U.S. Marshals Regional Task Force, along with officers from the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office and the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office.
Wells sustained facial fractures and lost a tooth in the assault which led to the “eventual demise” of Wells, Weissman said. He died Sept. 24 as family members stood beside him at Capital Health Regional Medical Center.
Prosecutors provided no sweeping motive for the crime, which has shocked city residents and family, friends and supporters of Wells, a well-known city activist who also owned and operated Wellsy’s Deli on North Montgomery Street.
Known as “Wellsy” or “Jimmy,” Wells was an outspoken Trenton activist who ran unsuccessfully for Trenton City Council in 2002. He graduated from Ewing High School and served in the U.S. Army.
As for Sloan, he has an extensive checkered past which includes a “propensity for violence,” Weissman said.
Sloan had accidentally shooting himself in the genitals on the 400 block of North Montgomery Street in 2012. He had been running away from the scene of a car fire when his gun went off as he was scaling a wall.
Sloan was indicted on counts of arson and weapons offenses, but Superior Court Judge Gerald Council sentenced him to between one and three years for weapons, saying that “shooting himself in the groin should be lesson enough that guns are dangerous.
Sloan spent about a year in prison and was released from the Albert C. Wagner Youth Correctional Facility on May 2015.
He has also been convicted of receiving stolen property and spent 14 months in prison before he was paroled. State records show he was sent back to state prison for violating the conditions of his early release.
Sloan was found delinquent as a juvenile of a charge of aggravated assault, prosecutors said.