Murder trial delayed for Trenton men, second one this week

Trust me, Assistant Prosecutor James Scott said, those hundreds of pages of discovery in this murder case do not contain new information.

“Or if there is new information, it’s minor new information,” Scott said at a pretrial hearing Wednesday.

Maurice Skillman

Maurice Skillman

Hykeem Tucker (Trenton Police Photo)

Hykeem Tucker

That was easy for Scott to say. He has been assigned the murder case of Maurice Skillman and Hykeem Tucker since its inception. Skillman’s attorneys were reassigned the case early this year, following the retirement of Vernon Clash, formerly the deputy public defender for Mercer County.

On the other hand, Scott was called Nov. 11, 2011 to the Baldassari Regency banquet hall in Chambersburg, the site of a grisly murder scene where off-duty Mercer County corrections officer Carl Batie was shot in the head while attending a reelection party for President Barack Obama.

Skillman and Tucker, charged with Batie’s murder, were scheduled for trial Nov. 30 before Judge Robert Billmeier.

But for the second time this week, Billmeier was forced to postpone a murder trial after prosecutors were late turning over reports, notes and documents they said were “duplicative” of evidence turned over years ago.

Famed New Jersey criminal defense attorney Richie Roberts’ three-month suspension, effective later this month, also required the judge to postpone the murder trial of three men who were expected to be tried together in January for the murder of Dardar Paye, a Liberian immigrant and U.S. Army veteran.

Carl Batie

Carl Batie

Skillman and Tucker could be tried in January instead.

Defense attorneys Nicole Carlo and Jason Matey, who represent Skillman, asked for an adjournment so they could pour through CDs containing hundreds of pages of documents related to the case.

Tucker’s attorney, Christopher Campbell, said that while he was not opposed to an adjournment, he was not joining his counterparts in asking for one. He said he reviewed the documents turned over earlier this month and felt they were not relevant to the case he plans to put on in defense of his client.

Billmeier asked Carlo if she would have enough time to review the materials considering she would does not have to appear before judges the week of Thanksgiving because of an upcoming conference for judges. She said that she could but she could not expect her investigators to work through the holiday.

“While I have been eating breakfast, lunch and dinner with my case, it’s the other moving parts,” she said.

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