Defense attorneys contend Lawrence man is prosecutors’ pet in Route 29 slay
Hours before a city man was gunned down in a cold blood as he drove unsuspectingly along a busy Trenton highway, Jamar Square was putting on a little reggae show for “some females” outside of a bodega.
He did the whole Damian Marley-like song and dance, even donning a stitch cap with long, fake dreadlocks.
“You know how to put on a show and make sure people are paying attention and you’re playing what they want to hear?” defense attorney Christopher Campbell asked Square on Tuesday, at the murder trial of two city men.
“I try,” he said.
After the self-proclaimed rapper and entertainer was finished, he handed the fake dreads back to the women and went inside to pick up his chicken cheesesteak, French fries and drink.
When he came back out, he spotted family friend Anthony Marks, behind the wheel of a black Chrysler Sebring. He asked for a ride, offering to give Marks gas money.
Square’s car “caught a flat” earlier the day of Jan. 30, 2012, on North Clinton and Olden avenues, right as he headed back into the capital city after his sociology class at Mercer County Community College let out sometime after 3 p.m. He then visited a female classmate for about an hour prior to making a pit stop at the bodega.
Square, a 23-year-old man from Lawrence, said Marks agreed to give him a hitch and told him since they were cool he didn’t need to pay him.
But as the men set off through the city streets, hot-boxing what turned out to be a stolen Sebring as they took turns hitting a marijuana joint, something horrible happened, Square said.
Suspected killers Andre Romero and William “Bill Bill” Mitchell opened fire on a vehicle as they motored down Route 29, Square said.
He said Mitchell announced to the car he recognized one of the occupants, through dark tinted windows, as “Old Boy from South Trenton.”
Then, Square said, the men said, “I’m about to blast him.”
“They’re firing shots while I’m ducking for cover in my seat,” he said. “The car spins in a 360. Once the car stops, I took off running for my life.”
In the hail of gunfire, a bullet struck 23-year-old Daquan Dowling in the head, killing him instantly, as passenger Morris Satchel struggled to regain control of the careening car.
Yeah, sure, defense attorneys said about Square’s allegations.
They shrugged it off his claims as lies from an admitted “mediocre musician” and gifted former point guard who dished it on others when he found himself trapped by prosecutors’ mounting full-court press.
“Are you putting on a show today for us?” Campbell charged.
“No,” Square responded.
“’Cause you retired?” Campbell said. “You’re not doing it anymore.”
Defense attorney Patrick O’Hara, Romero’s attorney, referred to Square during cross examination as a “one-man crime wave.”
Square was initially charged with murder along with Romero, Mitchell and Marks.
A grand jury ended up only indicting him on gun charges.
Square had also caught charges in three other cases. He faced counts of robbery, terroristic threats, burglary and theft in those cases – for allegedly holding up residents in his hometown of Lawrence and also targeting College of New Jersey students.
O’Hara scrawled the word “murder,” along with other charges, in big bold letters on an oversized notepad inside the courtroom, stacking up the combined potential century he faced behind bars on those charges, if they ran consecutively, and if he didn’t help prosecutors by cooperating against Romero and Mitchell.
Square, who struck a deal that could land up with him getting little as five years in prison, referred to his baggage as “stuff in the past,” promising he’s changed.
Square admitted he hopes by him telling the “truth,” he can avoid prison altogether.
O’Hara charged that Square did “whatever he needed” to do to get out from underneath a murder rap, even if it meant fitting his Square peg testimony into the round hole in prosecutors’ case.
Square let as much slip out in November 2012, when he sat down to give a statement to prosecutors.
Square was asked during the proffer session whether Marks, known as “Ant,” had a gun the day of the murder. He responded that Marks wasn’t armed, but added “but the prosecutor said,” before a detective cut him off.
O’Hara suggested Square is prosecutors’ pet, a parrot who would repeat whatever he was told to say.
“You were going to tell Detective [Gary] Britton that the prosecutor told [you] he had a gun,” O’Hara said.
The defense attorney pointed out he didn’t know his client by name, only his nickname, finding out Romero’s government name from detectives.
Assistant Prosecutor James Scott tried to humanize Square during direct examination earlier in the day, hoping the jury will believe his testimony if they know more about past and future.
Square said he has moved on from his checkered past. He resumed business classes and works a hotel desk job to put himself through college.
He is working toward an associate’s degree and hopes to get his master’s one day.
Square told jurors he saw Mitchell around Trenton prior to the murder, though they weren’t close.
Recapping his day in 2012, he explained that after getting a flat tire he called up his cousin for a ride.
His cousin worked late but would connect with him later to help him fix the tire.
Looking to kill time, Square walked to a bodega and ordered food. He chatted up a group of women outside, putting on a performance to woo one of them.
One woman handed him a fake Jamaican wig – one eerily similar to an abandoned dreadlock wig found near the William Trent house, where the four men fled toward after the murder.
Square claimed he gave the wig back.
“Never seen where that wig went,” he said.
Square said he sat with Romero in the back seat, directly behind Marks, on the driver’s side, gobbling down his cheesesteak and stashing a gray hat in the seatback pocket as they drove up St. Joes Avenue.
He retraced the car’s path for jurors, as they passed the train station on South Clinton Avenue.
While heading toward Route 29, a car with dark tinted windows cut them off, Square said.
Mitchell and Romero recognized the driver as “Old Boy.”
“They were talking in codes,” Square said.
The alleged shooters riddled the car with bullets, crashed and all four men abandoned the car.
Square insisted he never handled any of the guns, though he pleaded guilty to a weapon charge under the state’s constructive possession laws, which meant he had access to and could have used one of the weapons.
Afterward, Square said, Mitchell and Romero threatened him.
“If you tell, we gonna kill you,” he said.
Square said he gave a woman he knew gas money to give him a ride home, later skipping town for Virginia.
“I was scared for my life,” he said.