Bad blood spills over in court between victim’s family, attorney for murder suspect

An attorney for former Newark gang member Shaheed Brown, who is on trial for murder, has accused the brother of murder victim Enrico Smalley Jr. of disparaging and threatening him during an exchange in the restroom of the courthouse.

Defendent Shaheed Brown listens to trial testimony. (Gregg Slaboda - Trentonian)

Defendent Shaheed Brown listens to trial testimony. (Gregg Slaboda - Trentonian)

The allegations spilled into the courtroom Wednesday when defense attorney Edward Heyburn asked Judge Andrew Smithson for Smalley’s relative to be barred from the courthouse for his safety after he allegedly called him a “piece of sh—.”

Following the brief on-record discussion in the courtroom, Heyburn also alleged to The Trentonian that Smalley’s brother, Billy Blanks, made faces toward his client throughout trial and was warned not to do so by a sheriff’s officer.

On Wednesday, Judge Smithson refused to go along with Heyburn’s request to bar Smalley’s relative, and the man was instructed to stay away from the defense attorney.

Assistant Prosecutor Brian McCauley called the allegations against Smalley’s family member a “fabrication” and said the defense attorney’s request to prevent Blanks from entering the courthouse was “unconstitutional.”

“You have to consider the source,” he said within earshot of Heyburn.

Edward Heyburn

Edward Heyburn

In response, Heyburn said, “I’ll record the next one.”

For his part, Blanks, who has been present throughout Brown’s murder trial, said he did not threaten the defense attorney and only told him not to “forget to put his diva’s makeup on.”

Blanks poked fun at Heyburn, who has acted as attorney, tailor and makeup artist for Brown throughout the trial.

One day in court, Heyburn was seen applying concealer to tear drop tattoos that appear on Brown’s face. The judge had asked the defense attorney whether the tattoos were “gang marks.”

Blanks has been a docile figure throughout what has been a heart-wrenching process watching his brother’s accused killer tried for murder. This week, he was overheard by a reporter in the bathroom repeating the same hopeful refrain.

“Shaheed Brown guilty of all charges,” he said. “Shaheed Brown guilty of all charges. Shaheed Brown guilty of all charges.”

Heyburn said Blanks was the same man who jawed with him menacingly Wednesday when he went to the restroom to wash his hands prior to the jury resuming deliberations around 9:30 a.m.

The accusation is Blanks called the defense attorney a “piece of sh—.“

McCauley was overheard remarking to a county detective the “piece of sh—“ comment was “not a threat; it’s an observation.”

While he was offended by the first alleged insult, Heyburn said he was unsettled by a second comment he took as veiled threat.

Heyburn claimed Blanks muttered under his breath he should have “paid that $3,000.” Blanks denied making the statement.

“Whatever that implication means,” Heyburn said. “In a courthouse, there’s a certain decorum. Imagine if I stood up and called the Smalley family pieces of sh—, I’d be held in contempt of court.”

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